Jacinta Stevens is an ADR Group Accredited Workplace Mediator that holds over 12 years professional experience in Conflict Resolution, Learning and Development and Change Management in the Private, Public and Academic sectors. In addition, Jacinta Stevens meets both the UK and European standards in mediation. She is recognised by Civil Mediation Council, Bar Council and the Law Society of England and Wales.

Mediation

ACAS now recommends that a mediation stage is built into your company’s grievance procedure.

What is Mediation?

Workplace disputes have a substantial impact on all business, in terms of output, morale, time and cost.

Mediation is a process where a specifically trained, neutral third party helps disputing parties to find a way forward. Due to changes in legislation, mediation is a fast-growing service.

Mediation is a completely voluntary and confidential form of alternative dispute resolution. It involves an independent, impartial person helping two or more individuals or groups, reach a solution that’s acceptable to everyone. The mediator can talk to both sides separately or together. Mediators do not make judgments or determine outcomes – they ask questions that help to uncover underlying problems, assist the parties to understand the issues and help them to clarify the options for resolving their difference or dispute.

The overriding aim of workplace mediation is to restore and maintain the employment relationship wherever possible. This means the focus is on working together to go forward, not determining who was right or wrong in the past.

Many kinds of disputes can be mediated, if those involved want to find a way forward. It can be used at any stage of a dispute, but is most effective before positions become entrenched.

Legislation:

The 2008 Employment Act repealed the 2004 procedures and introduced a Code of Practice, which encourages the early resolution or workplace disagreements through flexible and simple procedure such as mediation.

Workplace Mediation is the ideal method for dealing with workplace disputes, in accordance with new Legislation, and is being heavily promoted by the Government following a report on their, ‘Resolving Workplace Disputes’ consultation (November 2011).

Advantages of Mediation

There are a number of advantages to mediating a dispute, rather than taking it to a tribunal or litigating. These include:

  • Saving on Costs – this is a major advantage, as cases can be settled quickly. Legal costs and time management costs are kept to a minimum, as are the psychological costs to those involved in the dispute.
  • Speed of Resolution – people do not like being in conflict. It is time consuming and a drain on both financial and management resources. Mediation sessions can be set up very quickly, within days if necessary.
  • Improves Communication – people caught up in conflict tend stop communicating effectively, sometimes resorting to communicating via other colleagues, their union representative or solicitor, which can lead to misunderstandings and escalate the situation.
  • Flexible – its voluntary, non-binding and without prejudice. The mediator can use the process flexibility to suit the nature of the dispute.
  • It Address Unreasonable Claims and Expectations – the careful analysis of the dispute allows a skilled mediator to put things into perspective and to get parties to view the case more objectively.

Why Mediation Works

  • Mediation is about looking forward and finding solutions, not looking backwards and finding fault.
  • It’s a protected conversation, its voluntary, confidential, non-binding and un-biased. .
  • It allows everyone involved an opportunity to get things off their chests and unearths any underlying issues. The mediator helps the party focus on the real, core problems causing the dispute.

Mediation Process

Column 1 Column 2
Welcome Telephone Call Party 1
Welcome Telephone Call Party 2
Private Meeting: 2 – 2.5 hours Party 1
Private Meeting: 2 – 2.5 hours Party 2
Joint Meeting: 3 hours + (normally allow up to 5, to include drawing up a settlement agreement) Both Parties
Follow-Up Meeting If requested

The most effective mediations allow at least 24 hours between the private meetings and joint meetings, as parties emotions can run high during the private meeting, because it may have been the first opportunity to talk about what has happened.

Some companies will run the whole process though in a day, but evidence shows this is unrealistic, unless it is a very simple dispute. Be cautious with your expectations, as it is not until the actual private meeting, that the real underlying issues are unearthed.

The private meetings are usually concluded in 2 – 2.5 hours, though if many issues were brought to the table, this could take considerably longer. Each case is unique, as are the people involved and we treat them as such.

Team Facilitation

The point behind having a team facilitator is to keep a group, engaged in a meeting or event, focused on the business at hand and streamlining the entire process -whether discussing a sensitive issue, making a difficult decision or planning the company’s future.

A good facilitator helps the team keep to relevant points and achieve the original desired outcome. This method is most effective if utilised bi-annually, to ensure that teams are on track and meeting their targets. This is also a successful method of obtaining engagement, if there is conflict within the team.

Independent Facilitation Enables:

  • All participants to contribute as equal members of the group
  • Managers and team leaders to focus on the content, rather than having to give their attend to the process
  • Groups to make effective use of limited time
  • Participants to have confidence that the process is not being used to further a particular point of view or agenda

Conflict Coaching

Working 1-2-1 with an experienced Conflict Specialist can provide a welcome break, and afford more time, to think about what’s happening in a particular situation and to identify positive ways forward.  A few, well-focused, sessions can mean the difference between sinking and swimming.  Coaching doesn’t solve the problem in and of itself, but it does bring another perspective to overlook a difficult situation.

Independent Conflict Coaching provides:

  • Time for reflection in a confidential setting
  • Focused input from an experienced Conflict Specialist
  • An opportunity to plan the next steps
  • Progress monitoring and evaluation
  • Empowering support

We understand that all people (and conflicts) are unique, and design a coaching programme around the specific needs of the person handling the conflict – always bearing in mind their level of experience in managing discord at work, and the complexities of the specific situation.

Costs – Because we approach each case as unique, we avoid offering a one-size-fits-all price (and solution). Please contact us for detailed breakdown of costs, based on your individual requirements.