Sometimes complaints, grievances and disputes develop in the workplace. An employee may feel he or she has been treated unfairly or disagrees with company policies. An individual may feel harassed or bullied. Team efforts may break down and people may become less cooperative than normal. When conflicts occur, a workplace mediator is oftentimes called in to assist the parties with solving the problem and finding a way to continue to work together productively.
Workplace mediation may seem like a process that is reserved for serious conflicts, but it is also helpful in putting a stop to conflicts before they become serious. Mediation may even be productive after a conflict has been resolved; helping to patch up strained workplace relationships.
The mediator begins by explaining that mediation is an opportunity for the parties to talk about their problem with a neutral third party present, allowing the problem to be discussed from both parties’ points of view. Once the problem has been clarified, the parties are able to develop a range of options for dealing with the situation. This process helps the parties to better understand the views of the other person and make better choices about how to proceed. With new understanding parties are better able to reach a mutually satisfactory solution or discover other approaches for handling the situation.
The workplace mediator will then work with the parties to develop goals, ground rules and a process they want to use. The mediator will make suggestions about the process, ask questions and facilitate the conversation, but will not suggest options for settlement. This is the parties' job.
As the result of successful workplace mediation, the parties often:
- Improve their own skills in conflict resolution
- Learn to listen, communicate and analyze issues more efficiently
- Evaluate alternatives and make decisions more efficiently
- When to Use Mediation
- Employee/employee conflicts
- Supervisor/employee conflicts
- Issues related to religious reservations
- Cultural issues and their impact on team work and customer service
- Discrimination complaints
- Stop conflicts before they become serious
- Resolve conflict without placing blame or imposing resolution