Helping organisations to resolve workplace disputes and grievances is a major component of my work as a senior HR consultant. Such disputes may involve employees, stakeholders, contractors, vendors, clients, unions or the broader community. For any manager or employer who wants to prevent grievances from escalating, my best tip is to promote honest communication within your workplace culture.
In a previous article, I have discussed the power of a courageous conversation. These types of conversations are initiated to discuss issues that you would probably rather avoid – the ‘undiscussable’. They require you to speak candidly and listen openly, they will often take the most courage to engage in and will ultimately have the biggest impact.
Courageous conversations are indeed powerful, yet many organisations lack the resources, training or experience to effectively facilitate them. This is where mediation can help. As the neutral third-party, a mediator facilitates communication and understanding between two parties, empowering them to negotiate a mutually acceptable outcome.
Here are my top 5 reasons why mediation provides such a powerful path to conflict resolution in the workplace:
1. The safe space for honest communication
A mediator uses their expertise to encourage and enable courageous conversations. Mediation creates a safe time and space for two parties to delve into the deeper issues and navigate a way forward, towards resolution.
2. The proactive approach to conflict resolution
An experienced mediator is able to identify where relationships have an undercurrent, or when something has happened that needs to be talked about, so that issues can brought to the surface and discussed before things get out of hand. The opposite to burying your head in sand, mediation encourages a proactive response, such as “I’m sensing something not right, what can we do to get things back on track?”
3. The opportunity for continuous improvement
When managers or directors sense an issue brewing in the workplace, they can either choose to evade it or explore it. Those who encourage courageous conversations ultimately benefit from a huge phase of growth, learning and change within the organisation. With insights into their workplace culture and behaviours, organisations can transform the way their people interact, which has a positive ripple effect on not only productivity but every aspect of the workplace.
4. The commitment to respect and wellbeing in the workplace
When an organisation responds proactively to tensions or disputes by engaging an experienced, independent mediator, this sends a strong message about the value of wellbeing in the workplace. It also demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to fair, respectful conflict resolution.
5. Settling out of court
Mediators who are certified to perform court-mandated mediation under the National Mediation Accreditation System may receive referrals from the Fair Work commission, or any other commission, to assist in court-mandated mediation. This is often the first step before a case is escalated to court, where a decision is imposed by a judge. Mediation reaches a negotiation in a much more direct, private and amicable way.
How do you resolve conflict in the workplace?
To help you resolve complex workplace issues, WorkPlacePLUS provides mediation services with a commitment to continuous improvement and strengthening teams. Our skilled mediators are certified to perform court-mandated mediation under the National Mediation Accreditation System.
WorkPlacePLUS also offers professional development programs such as our Courageous Conversations module, valuable for employers wanting to upskill their respective managers/team leaders on the benefits of open communications and how to manage their staff.
For more information, please contact us today.
WorkPlacePLUS is the “Preferred Human Resource and Employee Relations Provider” for Speech Pathology Australia and all of its members.