Information about Mediation
Note: conflicts and disputes are a normal part of life – and not all conflicts can or need to be resolved. Most conflicts are healthy and lead to improvements - things change for the better.
When to use Mediation
Mediation can assist in the resolution of disputes in the workplace. The dispute may be seen to be important by the organisation, or by those disputing, or by only one disputant. Mediation is used to manage conflict between people or groups of people in an independent, fair, and professional manner. Use mediation to help prevent issues causing damaging workplace conflict that may otherwise lead to litigation.
Why choose Mediation?
Mediation saves cost and time, and can assist in avoiding a workplace dispute escalating up through the internal grievance procedures to then need external investigation, HREOC or EEO investigation, Conciliation processes, Tribunals, Hearings and possibly Lawsuits. Formal workplace conflict processes are complex, bureaucratic, and can drag on for years. By contrast, Mediation is used successfully to assist disputants to reach an agreement, such that resolution can sometimes be achieved in a few hours.
What happens in Mediation
Disputants have the opportunity to individually and confidentially ‘think through’ and identify disputed issues to the mediator ‘in their own words’. Disputants then meet in a structured and professional environment to develop options, consider alternatives and with the mediator’s guidance endeavour to reach an agreement. The mediator has no advisory or determinative role in regard to the content of the dispute or the outcome of its resolution, meaning that the mediator makes no suggestion about possible solutions. Instead, the mediator will advise on, or perhaps determine (insist on), the process of mediation within which resolution is attempted.”
Adapted from the National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Committee (1997)
Why use an accredited Mediator?
“Disputants are the worst people to solve their own dispute.” Edward de Bono (1986)
An independent and accredited mediator is more likely to be perceived by the disputants (and the rest of the organisation) as impartial. Use of an external professional mediator provides a sense of safety and security in the confidential and structured process. Using an accredited mediator rather than internal managers as mediators avoids the perception of a conflict of interest and preserves the usual role of managers. It creates an environment of openness and demonstrates the organisation’s intention to follow procedural fairness.
Does Mediation always work?
No - not always. Mediators try to arrive at win-win, and failing that they try for equal-equal with better understanding by each side of the other. However, it is possible that disputants will remain set in a certain view and fail to participate in the spirit of mediation. They simply want to win.