Mediation: Tips for managers and supervisors

If conflict is causing chaos in your team, mediation may be the solution.

Workplace conflict affects performance and can have devastating effects on morale. Mediation – a discussion between people in conflict which is facilitated by an independent person – is often valuable in resolving issues. Here’s how to make mediation work for you at work.

Offer mediation as an option, not an obligation

You can’t force team members to go into mediation. Both parties must agree to the process. For this to happen, they must both want to resolve the conflict. By all means, explain the benefits of mediation. But participation is ultimately a choice. If one or both parties aren’t interested in settling their differences, mediation is unlikely to work.

Know your role

A mediator is someone who facilitates discussion. If you are mediating, keep in mind some important principles. You must be impartial and independent. This means you must not side with one person over the other. Nor can you have a vested interest in the outcome of the mediation. You must maintain confidentiality. You must treat everyone fairly and with respect. Avoid getting involved in decision-making.

Plan ahead

Ensure the mediation is properly planned. Everyone must understand what the process involves. They also need to have realistic expectations about the mediation process. Schedule mediation sessions with plenty of notice. Circulate supporting documents well in advance of meetings. And plan how you will run the session.

Set ground rules

Always establish ground rules at the start of a mediation session. This helps you ensure behaviour will be okay during meeting. Ground rules are guidelines for how all parties are expected to behave. Keep them short, simple and reasonable. A typical ground rule is that people should keep what happens in the mediation meetings confidential. You may also want to set guidelines around respectful behaviour and listening to each other. Once you have established ground rules, ensure everyone sticks to them.

Focus on the future

The goal of mediation is to resolve conflict. To achieve this, mediation needs to be solution-focussed. Your job is to focus participants’ attention on what needs to happen to make things right. Encouraging parties to look forward rather than reflect on past actions will increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Book one of our conflict resolution trainers to run a session for your team. Contact us now.