Book Image

The Manager's Guide to Mediating Conflict

By : Alison J Love
Book Image

The Manager's Guide to Mediating Conflict

By: Alison J Love

Overview of this book

Table of Contents (10 chapters)

Deciding to use mediation

Although mediation is a far better option, in the vast majority of cases it will not always be appropriate. The following table illustrates when to consider using mediation and when it will not be appropriate.

In terms of timing, I would urge you to always consider using mediation at the earliest possible stage. If you believe a situation is likely to result in some kind of formal process then mediation should begin prior to that process. Not only does this increase the chances of the mediation being successful, it also reduces the time and cost expended. Many of the mediations I have conducted have followed a lengthy and painful formal process, which has exacerbated the situation and could have been avoided in its entirety.

Consider mediation

Mediation not appropriate

Prior to a formal disciplinary/grievance

For example:

  • Where performance issues are linked to allegations of poor management or supervision or difficulties with colleagues

  • Where employees are showing signs of stress due to relationship difficulties with others

  • Informal grievances or complaints related to poor working relationships or management style

No agreement of the parties

(Conflict coaching or other support to help employees manage and resolve the conflict can be an alternative here.)

Unresolved/inconclusive grievances

For example:

  • The grievance has done nothing to improve working relations or has made matters worse

  • No findings have been possible due to conflicts of evidence and unsubstantiated allegations

  • One party has been absent for a period of time and is now returning to work following a grievance or disciplinary

Some gross misconduct offences

For example:

  • Those involving dishonesty or serious offences which may also amount to a criminal offence or where there are serious health and safety

Implementation of major changes/re-organizations

For example:

  • Where employees consider that changes are being implemented unfairly on them

  • Employees are struggling to cope with changes and are resistant

Where there is a need for a message, for example, serious discrimination/harassment

For example:

  • Where the employer wants to send a message to the workforce generally that certain misconduct will not be tolerated

Collective/industrial relations disputes

For example:

  • Where other dispute resolution mechanisms have failed to resolve disputes with trade unions

  • Where a team has become dysfunctional due to the breakdown of relationships between team members

Where the mental health of a party is a concern

For example:

  • Where there is doubt regarding an individual's ability to properly participate and make rational decisions

On-going difficulties in working relationships

For example:

  • Where employees need to co-operate and work together but are struggling to do so and there is an impact on them and/or those around them

  • Where there has been a breakdown of trust and confidence


Boardroom disputes

For example:

  • Where senior executives are in conflict, unable to communicate effectively and there is an impact on the collective decision making at senior level


Ideally I would suggest that mediation be considered as a first option in the vast majority of cases, with formal procedures being the exception to the rule. In order to encourage parties to enter into mediation in preference to formal processes, you may need to work at explaining what mediation is and highlight the benefits. It is also helpful to have mediation written into policies as a first step. You might think that as a mediator I would say that, wouldn't you!