Mediation is a method for facilitating constructive dialogue between employees whose working relationship has broken down.
This may have happened for a variety of reasons - misunderstandings, personality clashes, competition for resources or status, boundary or "turf" issues, tactless behaviour, real or perceived unfair treatment or discrimination, bullying or harassment, stress arising from overwork, differences over task priorities - to name but a few.
It can occur between people of equal status within the organisation, or between manager and employee. It can happen at any level, from shop floor to board room. It is often combined with practical problems and issues concerning day to day working.
A degree of healthy competition at work can be a good thing, but if it degenerates into resentment, disputes and discontent, this can sour the working atmosphere, staff may go sick because of work-related stress, and morale and productivity may suffer.
For the employer all of this carries costs, and it may be compounded by management time being diverted into dealing with the problem - particularly where the symptoms are visible but the cause is not clearly understood.
If you are facing this kind of situation, you may want to consider calling on the services of an independent mediator as a means of finding a constructive way forward. But before you do, you'll want to understand a little more about how mediation works in practice. Here's an outline of the process: