Workplace mediation is important for an organization's smooth running. Workplace conflicts, no matter how small they are, can become major issues if not dealt with immediately; therefore, it is a must that managers in an organization take action and correct whatever issues the organization has.
Put simply, workplace mediation is a process that is put into effect by the organization and is available to all of its employees. The process is implemented as a method of resolving, and providing resolutions for, workplace conflicts. As such, workplace mediation has become one of the most important dispute resolution tools that employees can choose. Moreover, the process is also important for managers and workgroups alike. (Doherty & Guyler, 2008)
As described by the authors, workplace mediation has six stages to it. The first of these mediation stages is called 'Introduction and Ground rules'. During this stage, the mediator describes what the mediation process is all about. Then, there are three ground rules that are agreed upon. These include respecting each other, keeping all discussions confidential, and letting others speak. The second stage is 'Hearing what has happened and summarizing back'. During this stage, the mediator asks each member of the conflict to state how workplace relationships are like. Then, the mediator carefully listens and summarizes for each employee. The third stage is called 'Identifying and discussing the issues'. During this stage, the mediator clarifies all the issues that are at hand, and labels them as the main issues. Then, the main issues are discussed in detail. The fourth stage is called 'Mutual understanding and communicating feelings'. During this stage, the mediator encourages the employees to understand one and other's issues, and then talk about the issues in a direct manner. The fifth stage is called 'Idea storming and exploring win-win solutions'. During this stage, the mediator discusses the solutions to the issues and explores the suitability of each of the solutions. The people involved in the conflict then agree upon certain points. The sixth and final stage is called 'Signing the voluntary agreements and arranging a follow-up meeting'. During this stage, the mediator creates voluntary agreements that the members of the conflict then sign. Sometimes, these agreements are merely verbal. The mediator then decides the date of a follow-up meeting to assess how the agreements have been working out.
Resolving workplace conflicts though is not a simple process at all. There are several issues that have to be looked at carefully, issues that hinder each party's functioning at the workplace. There are two parties involved in a workplace conflict resolution process; they are the mediator, and the participants. For the participants, there are several issues that can lead to workplace conflicts. These include unfair treatment at work, inadequate training, confusing job roles, unhealthy working environment, poor communication, increased work related burden, and unjust treatment. The issues are typical of workplace conflicts whereby two, or two groups of employees blame each other endlessly, with neither ready to accept their individual shortcomings.
For the mediator though, dealing with such a situation is tough. Most often, mediators tend to look for answers as to why a particular conflict has occurred. This approach, however, is wrong from the onset as it leads to people taking sides. Mediators should instead, look for solutions and try and resolve issues as soon as they arise. Many organizations tend to use formal methods such as lodging complaints and heading investigations to get to the core of conflicts. Again, this approach leads to even more negativity as a large number of complaints are lodged, and people take sides.
Doherty, N., & Guyler, M. (2008). The essential guide to workplace mediation & conflict resolution rebuilding working relationships. London: Kogan Page.