Mediation and Dispute Resolution

Moving to Solution…

In earlier newsletters we wrote about two workplace realities that can only be dealt with if they are addressed head on. In December 1996 we tackled the topic of harassment and its prevention suggesting that organizations should have a harassment prevention policy, should train all employees on that policy and should act swiftly when there is an allegation of harassment. In the previous edition we dealt with managing new employment relationships after downsizing and reorganization. We at the Aviary Group have the expertise and experience to assist you and your organization with both of these situations should they occur in your workplace.

The potential for interpersonal conflicts is at an all time high. We all know that incidents of harassment do occur — in the board room, on the shop floor, in organizations and the government. As well, the feelings and resulting behaviours (increased absenteeism, lower productivity and complaints of harassment, etc.) of the employees who remain after downsizing, are well documented. Add to the equation the new group of contract workers who may be getting paid higher wages than the full time staff and do not have the same commitment to the organization as the others do.

As a manager you probably do not have the time to deal with some of these situations while trying to manage the day-to-day of your workplace. Mediation may be the most practical and expedient process for resolving conflicts using the skills of an impartial party. As such, mediation is more like counseling than the more formal process of investigations or grievances, because the parties are encouraged to understand the others point of view and achieve their own solution.

Mediation does not determine guilt or innocence. The incident involved is one that both parties agree has taken place.

Acknowledging that a particular incident may have occurred does not compromise either party, but enables both parties to deal with the real problems involved. Mediation promotes mutual understanding and is voluntary. Either party may opt out at any time and other resolution options are still available if mediation is not the answer.

Mediation helps maintain the integrity of the relationship of the parties involved by promoting understanding and compromise. Getting back to working together is often complicated by more formal dispute settlement mechanisms that focus on fact finding.

Mediation helps parties get to the root of a problem. Numerous conflicts arise out of miscommunication or misunderstanding. Only by clarifying respective positions regarding conflict issues and achieving a better understanding can the conflict be resolved. Even if no final resolution is achieved, the mediation process enables both parties to achieve a greater understanding and respect for the other person’s point of view.

Mediation is not undertaken where illegal or unethical behaviour is involved, or where a significant power imbalance exists.

There is a significant cost saving which occurs because of the minimal requirements involved in the mediation process and a speedier resolution of conflicts compared to other processes. Mediation tends to enjoy a very high success rate; settlements are reached in more than 85 percent of cases involving professional mediators.

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