Mediation is a strictly confidential process that involves two or more parties in dispute. It aims to bring the disputing parties together and enter negotiations to reach a mutually agreeable resolution through open and honest discussion. It is essentially ‘the talking method’ of dispute resolution.
An independent third party mediator will be engaged by the Company to conduct the process in an objective and impartial way. The mediator will not find a resolution for the parties, but will create a framework for the parties to find it themselves. Engagement with mediation is voluntary and, as such, will only take place where all parties agree to it and also agree to abide by the outcome.
Use of mediation
The main reason for workplace mediation is when there is conflict between two or more staff members. A certain amount of conflict at work can play a positive role if it leads to healthy competition to perform better. However, some conflict can be negative. A simple throwaway comment that was not intended to cause offence, but did; or a misunderstanding about ownership of work leading to a missed deadline resulting in parties blaming each other are examples of events that can create negative conflict.
If the conflict is not dealt with at an early stage, it can grow; the colleagues will become entrenched in their own position; and ultimately the conflict can begin to disrupt the wider workplace in terms of performance and wellbeing.
However, these issues cannot be determined by who is right or wrong. It might simply be a personality clash that cannot be eliminated by any of the usual formal procedures that an employer usually adopts to resolve other types of dispute.
Parties will not be asked to take part in mediation in the following circumstances:
- where allegations of discrimination, bullying or harassment have been made
- where an employee has acted in a way which breaches Company rules, whether it be deemed as misconduct or gross misconduct
- where it is alleged that a crime has taken place.
In these situations, the Company’s disciplinary or grievance procedure will be implemented.
The mediation process
The mediator will:
- hold a confidential 121 meeting with the individuals involved
- meet with the employees.
- The meeting will start with each employee being given the opportunity to have 5 minutes of uninterrupted talk time – this would usually be a prepared statement that the individual has prepared follow the 121 meeting.
- The facilitator will agree with the individuals the main areas of conflict
- A facilitated conversation to resolve the issues
- Reach an agreement with the individuals on the actions that they will put in place to enable them to work together – the individuals will need to agree the resolution between themselves.
- As mediation is confidential the content of any discussions/negotiations will not be disclosed to any person outside of the mediation process.
The mediation process is voluntary and confidential, either party can withdraw from the process at any time and the mediator may stop the process if they believe that either party isn’t fully engaged in the process.
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