domingo, 13 de mayo de 2012

What is Mediation?

First of all, what is Mediation? We hear a lot about this word, but do we really know what it means and how it can help us to have productive and conflict resolving conversations? Apart from a more formal mediation session, a mediation approach to communication and conversations can provide productive and powerful benefits for any interaction. The skills and tools (e.g. creating empathy, active listening, being impartial/multipartial, reframing negative dialogue, the power of silence...) used in mediation can help us to have success both in our personal and professional lives. 

Mediation is a process of dispute/conflict resolution in which an impartial third party (the mediator) facilitates a series of private and joint meetings with the parties to identify a mutually acceptable and appropriate resolution. Mediation is a voluntary, non-binding process which addresses the underlying root causes of conflict, tension, problems... Mediators create the conditions for dialogue using a non-adversarial, non-partisan approach. The final outcome of mediation is agreed by the parties, not the mediator.

For mediation to work it requires a commitment from all parties. By entering into mediation with the right mindset - with a willingness to listen to each other; to be mutually respectful; to challenge and be challenged and to seek a new way of working together - there is every chance that mediation will work. 

In my experience, mediation helps to deeply resolve disputes in a time and cost effective manner, in a very positive way for people and companies e.g. maintaining a positive reputation and in the vast majority of cases creates stronger, long-lasting relationships through exploration of underlying issues and the application of what is learnt through the process. 

Type of case study: 4 Party Team Mediation 
Title: The case of the light touch strategy

1. The Problem
This case involved 4 members of a team who had been having severe difficulties in working together after the alleged physical attack of one of the team by another team member.

2. What I did to resolve it - the solution
To help the parties resolve their issues, I conducted a two day mediation with one day of preparation (total of 3 days). The individual meetings took place on day 1 and the team meeting on the next. Two  mediators were facilitating. The approach adopted was:
  1. Day 1 of meetings: Individual meetings with all parties to hear each story. 
  2. Day 2: a light touch was used in the sense that the mediators had various options in mind but let the parties decide how they wanted to continue at each stage, giving them full ownership of the day, being very flexible with structure. Each team mediation is a tailor made solution. 
The mediators:
  • facilitated 1:1s between all the team members, which were very successful,  with the mediators present in the room to provide safety for each party but explaining before each 1:1 meeting that they would only intervene if asked to
  • an ice-breaker was used to help the team  to communicate on a human level and reduce any tensions after lunch ñ they were asked to share something non-work related with the rest of the team which they felt the others were not aware of
  • the mediators were very comfortable with silence, letting the parties fill it with, on many occasions, new information
  • summaries and reflecting back were equally used
  • the mediators were very responsive to the parties' needs e.g. when one party momentarily left the room, he/she was followed out by a  mediator who checked in with them
  • the mediators were very supportive of each other 
  • transparency was very important for the mediators, asking the parties what they wanted to do next at every stage
  • both mediators were very conscious of using a light touch throughout the mediation, not being dragged down by the strength of emotion or fear in the room

The mediation continued successfully with the parties able to come to a very complete agreement. 

The benefits of our approach
  1. The benefits to the parties of this approach were:
  2. Each person's needs were being fully met
  3. The parties were prepared to go back into work the next Monday with a clear way forward on how to rebuild their workplace relationship in a way which would be acceptable for all of them
  4. The team could draw the line between the past and the future, make peace, clear the air and move forward
  5. Benefits for the organization:
  6. The possibility of team working was restored and the team decided to use their agreement as part of a new work manifesto for the benefit of the wider team and their colleagues

What we learned
Key points were:
  1. As mediators, a light touch helps to ensure that the ownership stays with the parties 
  2. Being completely transparent in the process helps to maintain ownership with the parties and build trust,  which fosters openness and honesty
  3. Bringing back the human in workplace relationships, helps to  soften positions and move to interests, needs, goals and requests
  4. A successful mediation can help to bring about positive cultural change in an organisation - in this case, the agreement was to be used as a work manifesto for the wider team

By Professor Balvinder Powar

No hay comentarios: