- 44% of respondents report that they have to manage disputes at work frequently or continually.
- Nearly two-thirds of respondents report that conflict at work that escalated has resulted in the absence from work of one or more of the parties involved.
- Nearly one in three (28%) of respondents admit leaving a job as a result of conflict at work. (Source - CIPD survey 2008)
The above is merely a snapshot of the impact that conflict at work has on the parties involved, the department and the organisation as a whole.
The inevitability of disputes occurring on some level within an organisation is high. How these disputes are dealt with sets the tone for the future handling of such occurrences.
A relevant & valuable tool
At Business Affinity we view the mediation process as both a tool to manage conflict when it occurs, as well as a process that should form part of your HR policy to enable you to deal with issues as they arise.
Having a properly constructed mediation process in place means that disputes can be handled efficiently and effectively. Employees are more likely to choose as a first option, a process that is less confrontational, addresses emotions and means that everyone can get back to ‘normality’ sooner rather than later. Crucially, it reduces the emotional and financial cost to all involved.
Mediation is relevant when a future relationship is desired or required, such as in a workplace environment when parties in conflict are equired to work together at some level for the benefit of the organisation.
Participant feedback demonstrates a high level of personal growth as a result of a mediation intervention; it is common for behaviour to change as a result, and for people to be more tolerant and understanding after exposure to the mediation process.
A voluntary process
In contrast to other forms of conflict resolution mediation is a voluntary process and thereby creates a unique context for dispute resolution to occur. It facilitates the expression of emotions, it is a non-judgemental process, and unlike a judge, the mediator does not bestow a decision one way or the other.
Mediation is a non-adversarial process and it gives all parties equal say in the proceedings. Importantly, the process and details of the outcome are confidential.
The responsibility for the outcome in a mediation rests firmly with the participants. It is their agenda that gets discussed, it is their agreement that forms the basis of the future relationship, it is their words, their meanings, their timetables and their success criterion which will determine the success of the process.
Managing the mediation process and understanding the complexities involved in conflict resolution is a highly skilled craft; our mediators are professionally trained individuals whose training has been accredited by the Law Society or the Bar Council, as a minimum.
Low cost & quick
The mediation process does not absorb large amounts of money, time or human resource compared to other interventions such as arbitration, the grievance process or litigation.
The fact that the process is fairly swift (usually no more than a day in total, slightly longer for more complex cases) means that parties can get on with their lives and/or business rather than worrying over a protracted period.
Business Affinity play an important role in facilitating proceedings in a structured way that allows the disputants to air their views and emotions, discuss what is important to them, listen to the other party(s) and agree a way forward. Whereas litigation, for example, focuses on legally relevant facts, which fails to address the emotions often seated at the heart of the conflict. The litigious route strives to distance itself from emotions them in order to force a decision based in legal precedence to validate its decision.
The premise of mediation and therefore the strength of its usefulness, is based on the fact that it attempts to create a win-win solution for disputing parties.
In other forms of dispute resolution it is more common that there is a loser and a winner, or indeed both parties may feel they have lost. For example, in an employment tribunal situation whilst the judge may have found in favour of the plaintiff and awarded them a financial sum, they will probably still have to find another job, and as the financial awards have a fixed ceiling, the immediate euphoria of winning is quickly overtaken by the realisation that the reward won’t last forever. Other concerns and emotions such as the feeling of loss that a valued job has been taken away, that relationships with colleagues has been severed, all take there toll and very quickly a win can feel like a loss.
From the defendants perspective, there will not only be the feeling of loss that their actions have been deemed to have been unfair, the financial loss will hurt, the fear of adverse publicity will be concerning, the huge investment of time and human resource will be rued and the resulting emotional strain will take skilled handling to overcome.
It’s constructive, not destructive
The constructive nature of mediation combined with the fact that it’s a confidential process underpinned by a straightforward and open structure, allows for an open exploration of the key issues, rather than a guarded ‘positional’ presentation which distinguishes it from other more confrontational forms of dispute resolution. These other options are by their nature adversarial and either involve face-to-face confrontation which can have a great power imbalance where one party can feel bullied or coerced into agreement. The arbitration and litigation alternatives rely on a third party adjudicator making a ruling and therefore any future relationship is unlikely, or made very difficult at the very least.
Deals with emotions
Much conflict centres on emotion which is triggered by the conflict event(s). Mediation uses this as the basis from which to unravel interests which then lead to a greater understanding of each parties concerns. This objective cannot be achieved by other forms of dispute resolution because fundamentally, the ‘future focussed’ objectives are not present.