When should mediation be used?
Informal stage Mediation can be very effective during the early stages of a dispute – for example before any grievance or disciplinary process.
Formal stage Mediation can still be considered here if all parties involved are willing to put any formal processes on hold.
Post Formal stage After a formal process has taken place (especially if there is a ‘no blame’ outcome) mediation can be very useful for rebuilding relationships.
Examples of situations suitable for Mediation:
- Miscommunication and misunderstanding
- Working style differences and behavioural clashes
- Equality and diversity issues
- Bullying and harassment allegations
- Disputes between managers and their team members
- Customer/third party complaints
In all cases, mediation will take place on a ‘without prejudice’ basis. This means that whatever is said during the process cannot be subsequently taken and used in any legal process outside of that mediation.
What will happen during mediation?
Every mediation situation is slightly different and we will always work with the parties involved to make sure everybody feels as comfortable as possible with the process. Typically, the stages of mediation are:
- There will be an initial consultation with the organisation to understand the case and establish whether mediation is appropriate.
- The mediator will meet with the parties involved individually first to gain an overview of the concerns. This might take up to half a day. The mediator will also want to understand what each person is looking to achieve. During this session, the mediator will also establish the ground rules of the mediation meeting which are:
- Not interrupting when the other is speaking
- Treating each other in a respectful manner
- Ensuring content of the discussions during the mediation remains confidential
- The mediation discussion can take place either on or off site and for communities in a neutral venue. This typically will take a day (but can be longer for more complex disputes). After allowing the parties to briefly summarise what is happening for them in the relationship, the mediator will help to identify the issues through open discussion.
- Once a mutual understanding of the key issues has been achieved, a win-win outcome will be sought by exploring solutions and drawing up a voluntary agreement. This action plan will be agreed on the day and the mediator will often re-visit the parties a number of weeks later to follow-up and see how things are going.