Resolving Workplace Conflict Through Mediation
Managing Disputes Informally
Imagine that you're managing a big project, involving people from a number of different departments. You've made great progress, but tension is mounting between two members of your team, and what you previously put down to a bit of healthy rivalry now looks like a full-blown personality clash.
At first, you were inclined to leave the situation alone, in the hope that it would run its course naturally. But now your two team members aren't talking to one another, and you fear that the situation will hinder your project's success if you don't take action.
Modern workplaces are complex and comprise people from diverse backgrounds who have different opinions, values and expectations. Add that to the growing need for employees to achieve more with less, and it's not surprising that workplace conflicts sometimes arise.
The good news is that there are several ways that you can resolve conflict successfully – and one is mediation. In this article, we'll consider this approach, discuss when best to use it, and provide a step-by-step guide to mediating conflict within your team.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a way of managing conflict that uses an impartial person to help team members to resolve their disagreements. The intention is to ease workplace tensions before they escalate into something more damaging. It differs from disciplinary and grievance procedures by offering a more informal and flexible approach.
Using mediation can reduce formal discrimination complaints (in the U.S.) and employment tribunal claims (in the U.K.). So some organizations invest in training their people in the technique while others might opt to bring in official, external mediators to intervene in a dispute, especially if it's large and complex.