Disagreements and conflict at work arise from time to time. Most of the time these can be sorted out with a quick chat, but when they cannot, things can soon take a turn for the worse. Conflict can be with colleagues or managers, even between people several management levels apart. Using mediation – rather than immediately resorting to a formal process – may resolve conflict in a quicker and more satisfactory way.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a way of talking through difficulties and problems at work, with the help of impartial third parties. The people directly involved, not the mediators, make the decisions. It provides a structured, informal way of resolving complaints, grievances and disputes.
Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process which helps people:
- Identify issues in dispute.
- Think of ways to resolve the issue.
- Work together to reach an agreement.
Suffolk County Council’s Workplace Mediation Service is provided by a team of workplace mediators, who have been trained, assessed and accredited by CMP Resolutions and endorsed by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).
When is it used?
Mediation tends to work most effectively if it’s used as early as possible in the dispute or disagreement; however, it can also be effective in resolving longer term disputes.
Because mediation is not seeking a culprit, it can help rebuild relationships and restore broken communication and trust. It is ideal to work through difficulties arising because of personality clashes, breakdown in communication, disagreements over style or behaviour. It is fast, private, and very effective. Mediation can provide a swifter response to conflict and can prevent the escalation of potentially damaging disputes. It has been shown to reduce levels of grievances and therefore the time these formal processes take; and, where these would have led to a tribunal, it provides a more cost-effective approach than the employment tribunal process.
How does it work?
A mediation request form is completed, and the mediators and a neutral venue are booked for a mutually agreeable time.
Both you and the other party will need to provide the person making the referral with a few dates you would be available for the mediation. This will need to be a full working day (9am-4.30pm). Both parties will also be required to sign a Confidentiality Agreement prior to the mediation.