When issues between individuals at work reach the point where they can no longer work well together, it can have serious consequences
Left unresolved, things can escalate to the point of open conflict and destructive behaviour. When this happens, it is often accompanied by a fall in output and a deterioration in the quality of the work done by those concerned.
One or both of them may end up taking out a formal grievance, or deciding to leave. Alternatively, managers may feel they have no choice but to take disciplinary action. In the process, those involved are likely to take up polarised positions, which can spread if their colleagues are drawn to take sides.
Formal grievance and disciplinary procedures are typically adversarial procedures which lead to a panel finding in favour of one employee and against the other. While such an outcome may be fair, it is unlikely to help the two to have a harmonious working relationship, going forward.
Mediation offers a proven alternative means of dealing with workplace conflict and dysfunctional working relationships. It encourages an open and honest dialogue between the parties, facilitated by a mediator trained to assist with constructive conflict resolution. Mediation creates a safe environment where problems can be examined from both sides and the parties are encouraged to work towards restoring their ability to work together.
Mediation involves the individuals concerned
sitting down to explain their issues to a
qualified mediator, who will then assist both
parties to enter into a dialogue with
eachother, with the aim of finding a mutually
acceptable way forward. ACAS says that "
"Mediation helps people who don't see eye to
eye to sort out their differences as quickly as
possible - saving time, money and stress."
Mediation can re-open channels of
communication which appeared to have
completely broken down. Provided both
parties commit to the process, the success
rate is high. The final outcome is freely agreed
by the participants and entirely within their
control, which means they are much more
likely to make any agreement reached work
in practice, after the mediation is over.
Mediation can be used at any stage in a conflict situation - whether early, as a means of preventing it from escalating, or after formal action has been taken, as a means of rebuilding bruised relationships.