Mediation in the Workplace
Every day co-workers in conflict expend time and energy that results in losses to employers. Informal workplace conflicts result in wasted time, reduced decision quality, drive skilled employees away, cause sabotage, theft and damage, lowered job motivation and health costs. Many employers accept these results as part of the natural order of the workplace. There is an alternative: mediation of these informal disputes.
Workplace conflicts turn into business problems. The human “fight or flight” response to threats, real and perceived, applies to conflicts at work. You know what this looks like: avoiding personal contact, withholding needed information, not returning messages, shouting, threatening, getting others to take sides, undermining an opponent’s reputation. These behaviors can wreak havoc with decision-making and performance. Conflicts in the workplace can be resolved through the process of mediation before they cause further losses or become formal conflicts, such as lawsuits.
A mediator can facilitate the parties in conflict to frame the business problem caused by the conflict, hear the parties out, and engage them in the process of working through the conflict to reach an agreement acceptable to the parties that includes gives and takes, and specific behavior.
If you have a workplace conflict that needs attention, a trained outside mediator may be the most cost-effective route to a positive resolution.
Jane M. Shields is a member of the Pennsylvania Council of Mediators, and has been specifically trained in mediating workplace conflicts.
The following article is informational only and not intended as legal advice. Speak with a licensed attorney about your own specific situation. © Copyright 2011 MacElree Harvey, Ltd. All rights reserved.