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Thank you to Roger Gilbert from Practical Mediation for our latest Guest Blog.

Even in the happiest work environment, people can rub each other up the wrong way.   And once people get upset or angry, they are prone to interpret everything the other party does in a negative way so that things can rapidly take a turn for the worse. The resulting poor relationships affect other staff and productivity, and it may even result in an employee leaving or going off sick for a long period of time.

So, if staff tension has arisen in your organisation, what can you do about it?

One choice which is becoming more and more popular is to appoint a mediator to help the parties resolve their differences.

Why appoint a mediator?

What enables a mediator to succeed in resolving conflict at work is that he or she is impartial and independent of management, and does not have the goal of achieving a pre-conceived solution. This, combined with the confidential nature of the process, provides a safe space for the parties to talk and for anger, defensiveness and upset to be resolved.  Once this happens, it can be astonishing how quickly the parties resolve their differences.

The focus of mediation is always on the future relationship, rather than attributing blame for past events, and if the mediation is successful – and most are – the parties agree a set of guidelines as to how they will work with each other in the future to avoid conflict arising again.

The other benefits of appointing a mediator are:

  • it’s quick: a mediation can be set up very quickly and, if it involves only two parties, it can be completed in a day;
  • mediation repairs relationships, whereas other processes like imposing a management solution, grievances and disciplinaries usually cause them to get worse;
  • appointing a mediator is incredibly good value for money compared with the cost of a dysfunctional team; holding a disciplinary or grievance procedure; an employee going off sick for months; an employee leaving so that a replacement employee must be recruited and trained up; or appointing solicitors to deal with a stress or tribunal claim.

Obviously, appointment of a mediator will only take place when it is clear that the usual management processes are not working.  However, it is usually better to act sooner rather than later to help the parties to resolve their conflict before positions become entrenched.

At Practical Mediation we are very happy to talk to you on a free and no obligation basis about any workplace conflict you are dealing with. So, if you have a situation where you are wondering whether mediation is the way forward, please get in touch and we will be happy to talk it through with you.

Whilst this blog is about workplace disputes, we also mediate commercial disputes, neighbour disputes and tenancy disputes.  For more articles on mediation please see our blog at www.practicalmediation.co.uk/blog