So, what is mediation – let’s be clear..
Mediation is a confidential and informal process where an independent third party works with people who have a disagreement. Their aim is to help people find their own solution and reach an agreement to either sort out the problem or improve the situation.
Mediation differs from a formal process because it is voluntary and both parties have to agree to give it a go. If you use a formal process then it often forces people to take sides and creates further divisions between them – not good when they still have to work together.
Mediation on the other hand, takes the emphasis away from conflict and places it on harmony – that’s why it’s the most effective form of intervention in the early stages of conflict
Ok, so what actually happens in mediation?
A good mediator will provide plenty of information before the mediation to takes place to ensure all parties completely understand what they are committing to. Once all the parties involved have agreed to mediation, the mediator will usually meet separately with them to get their perspective on the situation. They will then come together in a joint meeting to discuss the issues constructively with the mediator guiding the process towards resolution.
The process is completely neutral so mediator won’t take sides or pass any judgement on who is right or wrong. The mediator cannot tell the parties what to do or give any legal advice. The agreement on how to resolve the situation and work together going forward is entirely the decision of the parties involved.
At the end of the process the mediator will draw up a written agreement for all who are involved. Whilst the details of the mediation are completely confidential the mediator will let the employer know that the issues have been resolved. Details of the written agreement can only be shared with the consent of both parties.
It really is the case that everything stays in the room! No notes or records are kept by the mediator, there’s no representation and nothing is recorded on the individual’s HR files so there has to be trust in the process.
You might not be used to doing things this way – but if you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got!