By: Linda Roberts
Mediation offers an alternative and effective way of resolving office conflicts apart from the traditional investigation or litigation processes.
This process is actually an informal one, with a neutral third party playing a key role in assisting opposing parties to voluntarily discuss, negotiate, and finalize a resolution to conflict issues.
Neutral third party mediators do not impose decisions on both parties, but rather help them reach one that is mutually acceptable.
Mediation gives both parties the chance to talk the issues at length, clarify misunderstandings, determine interests and concerns, seek common points of agreement, and transform these into concrete solutions.
Litigation, on the other hand, has a range of disadvantages:
It drains the complainant’s resources
- It stresses the victim(s), affecting both mind and body.
- It creates a negative impact on productivity.
- It distracts and affects workforce effectiveness
Benefits of mediation in resolving office conflicts
It averts the need for litigation.
Lawsuits are lengthy and costly as well. Compared to mediation, outcomes of judicial procedures are uncertain.
It is impartial.
The parties have the power to decide the terms and process of settlement. The mediator has no way of determining who is guilty or innocent among both parties.
It saves time and money.
Mediations are expeditious and usually held in one meeting. It does not require legal representation.
It enhances communication.
Being neutral and confidential, mediation provides an environment where both parties can open up their views.
It promotes cooperation.
Mediation offers a viable approach that reduces complaints and disruptions by having a better understanding of issues affecting the workplace.
It is private.
The third party and the opposing parties may sign a confidentiality agreement, if agreed. Mediators need not reveal to anyone the information disclosed during the meeting.
It is a win-win solution.
Many people use mediation for its mutual benefits. In addition, it reduces the number of complaints.
It is free.
A mediator is available to opposing parties at no cost.
A mediation session should be conducted by a trained and experienced mediator. It should be attended and participated in by persons in authority representing both parties. The attorney or other representation of both parties may also attend, if needed.
Both parties should overcome the wrong impression that they should not go to mediation thinking they didn’t do anything wrong. Mediation makes efficient use of time and money by ending the conflict in an agreed settlement.
Investigation and conciliation
If the mediation does not result in a settlement, then the charge or complaint would be referred for investigation, usually by the appropriate government agency.
A qualified investigator would ask the subject of the complaint or charge to respond to the allegations and provide proper documentation to reinforce its response. He or she would ask for a written answer, although on-site visits may be conducted to interview witnesses and verify facts.
If the subject of the complaint or charge failed to provide the requested information, the investigator may issue a subpoena for access, documents, or testimony.
If such information were obtained, the investigator would then determine whether to proceed with the investigation, propose a compromise settlement, or dismiss the charge.
Investigators may decide to dismiss the charge if there is insufficient evidence to conclude that there is, indeed, a violation. The rationale for the decision should be explained to the complainant or charging party.
If, however, the investigator believes there is reasonable cause for the charges, he or she should explain the rationale to the subject of the complaint or charge.
Both parties are subsequently invited to enter into conciliation discussions to resolve their conflict without going to court.
Linda Roberts is part of a research team providing various resource materials to many different corporate recruitment departments.
You might also like to read: Office Politics: How to Deal with It?