It’s not easy knowing when to mediate and, once you are in there, achieving a successful and sustainable mediation outcome. Like any other craft there are some tricks and techniques to help you along the way. Here are some key lessons learnt through our mediation practice that you may find valuable when tackling your next workplace mediation.
Ensure your mediation outcomes are clear, measurable and achievable. Vague agreement must be avoided. Agreements between the parties should be concrete and pinned down with detail so there is a clear understanding about what changes are necessary to restore a productive working relationship. Don’t allow the ‘I’m going to be nicer’ commitment to wash – it is not a real and sustainable mediation outcome. Your Mediation Action Plan might look similar to a performance plan – what is the action, who else needs to know about it, how do we measure it, what could impact it and when do we know we have succeeded.
In a mediation, identify any environmental or systemic change required to re-adjust the workplace in order to prevent the conflict from re-occurring. Take the opportunity to go beyond the human cause and consider process, system or organisational factors. Actions to eliminate them will most likely belong to someone outside the immediate mediation, so refer them on.
Harness the frontline leader in the mediation process. Gaining an understanding of the conflict or relationship from the frontline leader allows the mediator to have a fuller picture of the conflict prior to commencing the mediation. Also, click-in again before the end of the process. With both party’s permission, providing the leader with greater detail about the agreements made in the Mediation Action Plan will assist the leader to support the parties in implementing their agreements and taking their ongoing responsibility in managing the relationship. Imparting any insights you have gained into the parties, their interaction and their conflict will assist the leader in their development in managing workplace conflict -who knows, they might have been a contributing factor!