Conflict is practically inevitable in any situation that requires people coming together. This is especially true when cooperation is required over a prolonged period, towards achieving a common goal, for example in the workplace. It is therefore important for employees to imbibe dispute resolution principles and for employers to be deliberate about dealing with conflicts in a way that promotes cordial relations. One strategy for achieving this is by integrating mediation into the employee relations process.

Based on its voluntary, informal and confidential nature, mediation provides a platform for people to resolve their conflicts in a way that gets them actively involved in the process of reaching a mutually agreeable solution. Disputing parties can rub minds and feel heard. They can better appreciate one another’s perspective and consequently work together to consider possible ways to reach a workable resolution.

Almost any kind of relational tension in the workplace can be eased with mediation if the company provides a conducive context for mediation and the disputing parties are willing to talk things over. Here are some kinds of conflict where mediation will be especially useful.

If you lead, manage or work with people, you will deal with conflict. Learn five ways you can use mediation to improve workplace relationships. Click To Tweet

1. Bullying and harassment

Cases of bullying and harassment might sometimes result from differences in values and varying definitions of proper behaviour. For example, what someone intends as a playful gesture may be offensive to someone else. Mediation helps parties involved to express themselves, clarify their reservations and set appropriate boundaries.

2. Employee grievances

When employees have complaints about issues relating to their working conditions or their relationship with the company, mediation provides an avenue to identify problem areas and propose an effective resolution. Instead of forcing decisions on employees who would only comply grudgingly, management can get them involved in the process. This will give them a sense of ownership and make them feel heard, ultimately resulting in better outcomes.

3. Interpersonal conflict

Conflict between coworkers can prove detrimental to the workplace especially where teamwork or collaboration is very important. This kind of conflict can often be a natural effect of personality differences. It can therefore provide an opportunity for personal growth as each party works to understand the other. If they are not able to fashion out a good working relationship on their own, the company can set up a mediation process. With this, disputing parties can air their views and reach an agreement on how to work together going forward.

4. Performance issues

The regular performance review process might prove inadequate to address issues of deteriorating performance especially from an employee who had previously been a star performer. An employee could feel victimised, unheard and unappreciated. Mediation could provide an effective approach to deal with performance issues by taking communication to a deeper level that exhumes underlying causes. Both parties can then work towards a resolution.

5. Termination

Mediation can help an employer reduce the risk of having the affected employee initiate a lawsuit. It can also make it easier for the employee to move on with life, having received fair hearing and a better understanding of why the decision was taken.

Mediation offers an effective approach to deal with performance issues by taking communication to a deeper level that exhumes underlying causes. Click To Tweet

Conclusion

By establishing mediation as the preferred mechanism for resolving disputes we can create a work environment that fosters creativity and enhances productivity through teamwork and collaboration.

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