June 1, 2020

Using mediation to solve workplace conflicts

Whenever you bring two people or more, there’s bound to be conflict somewhere along the line. This is especially true in offices, both big and small, where people (often with very different personalities) spend a large part of their time. For a business to succeed, these people need to work well together, in pursuit of a common goal. They need to support and understand each other. As personalities clash and stress levels rise, it’s more than likely that there will be conflict from time to time. 

If these disputes aren’t address quickly, and in a way that’s satisfactory to everyone involved, they might get in the way of people doing their jobs well, and the business might not run as smoothly as it could (and should!).

Mediation is a non-confrontational way to resolve conflict. The mediator, and everyone involved in the conflict, as well as any human resources staff who need to present, meet together to discuss what happened in an open, honest, environment. Because everyone meets at the same time, and has equal opportunity to voice their concerns, ‘he-said-she-said’ dynamics are avoided, and everyone feels heard and acknowledged. 

A good mediator will allow everyone to air their grievances without causing more conflict, so that a common understanding of the conflict is created. Gossip or unrelated issues shouldn’t be brought into the mediation space, as they might contribute to further friction. 

The mediator then works with everyone concerned to find a positive outcome, whether that’s a better working relationship, more clarity on roles or responsibilities, or a deeper understanding of company policy. Everyone then agrees on what steps are required to reach that outcome, and the actions that are required to put these into place. It’s important that everyone feels part of this decision, because they will be bound to following it through. 

At the end of the process, a memorandum of understanding is signed, which serves as a record of what was agreed upon, is signed. Everyone leaves knowing that they’ve had the chance to be heard, and that they’ve played a part in reaching a conclusion that’s acceptable to them as well as everyone else. 

If you believe you would benefit from mediation, feel free to contact our office on 011 347 0300 or info@lawmen.co.za.

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