Business First May-June 2017 Business First May 2017 | Page 17

BUSINESS FIRST WORKSHOP An introduction to Mediation Skills for Managers by Michael Doherty Mediate NI here are times in places of work, when tension may arise among or between staff that requires the intervention of a third party. This could take the form of a formal investigation particularly if there is an accusation of bullying or harassment. In this respect the management must take appropriate steps to sustain a harmonious working environment. There are other times when managers can take on the role of a mediator. In this capacity the manager with mediation skills who remains non­judgemental and impartial can play a significant part in helping parties in conflict reach their own agreements which are satisfactory to all sides. The function of the mediator is completely different from that of the investigator. The investigator will interview all parties and collect evidence and either draw conclusions from their findings or pass on their findings and recommendations to a higher authority such as the Managing Director or Human Resource personnel who will make a final decision based on evidence presented. Mediation is significantly different as it is a structured process that assists parties in reaching their own agreements. The purpose of mediation is to validate and normalise the parties’ points of view, search for their needs and interests and help them create options for consideration in order to help the respective parties reach their own agreements. The mediator does not suggest outcomes or make recommendations. The mediator manages the process and the parties manage the agreements, based on information and understanding. The mediator has overall control of the process but must not influence the outcome. Mediation as an alternative to more formal proceedings such as arbitration or litigation is becoming more and more effective as a tool for resolving disputes. The benefits of Mediation are such that it is a voluntary process that gives the disputing parties an opportunity to hear out each other’s concerns in a safe and confidential environment. Mediation can assist disputants to think creatively in terms of putting forward their views and opinions. In order for the mediation process to begin all parties must agree to give their consent to enter the mediation process in the understanding that their statutory rights will not be affected. The mediator or mediators do not have any decision­making power in the process but can conflict should use mediation but in my opinion the best reason is that it is quicker than formal legal proceedings. It can also save people money as it is cheaper than having to go to a lawyer/solicitor and at the same time does not affect people’s statutory rights. In conclusion I want to emphasise that mediation is a voluntary process in which people can stop a mediation session at any time and go straight to litigation if they so wish. Apart from workplace disputes people in dispute may use the skills of a mediator for; T • Personnel matters • The management of diversity • Disputes with or between members of the public and official bodies • Planning, environmental and legal issues assist the disputing parties to, creatively, think of options as to how they could make their own agreements/accommodation or settlement. Mediation is a voluntary process and is confidential (except when someone may be at risk e.g. domestic violence or other forms of abuse) and is also without prejudice, this means that if the disputants cannot get to an agreement through mediation and they go on to a tribunal or any other legal process, whatever happened during the mediation cannot be discussed. Mediation can be used in many settings and there are three particular models of mediation processes that can be adapted to use in different situations. These are called Facilitative, Evaluative and Shuttle mediation. The different mediation models offer each of the disputing parties a chance to evaluate their particular situation. During whatever mediation process is used, each disputant is given an opportunity to present their issues in uninterrupted time. Mediation can generate change within many conflict situations. In my experience as a practising mediator most disputes that are settled through a mediation process have a better chance of lasting than those settled through other formal methods, such as the court process or formal grievance procedures in workplace disputes. Due to the confidential nature of mediation it is particularly suited to resolving conflict arising from bullying, harassment, restructuring, redundancy and misinterpretation of employment rights and contracts within the workplace. There are many reasons why people in When managers are being trained in mediation skills courses participants get an opportunity to explore the above three mediation models through an experiential learning process that will consist of tutor input and case studies to help participants experience the role and function of a mediator as a third party interventionist in a conflict. MOREINFORMATION Mediation Skills For Managers Workshop If you are interested and want to learn more about the practice of mediation I am facilitating a one­day workshop on an Introduction to Mediations Skills for Managers to be held at Ridell Hall, Queens University Belfast on the 25th May 2017. The workshop will introduce managers to the three models of mediation that have been used by professional mediators in many parts of the world. Through tutor input and an experiential learning process participants will get an understanding of the legal frame work of mediation, how to prepare disputants for a mediation session, set ground rules and help disputants build agreements that have positive outcomes. For more information and to reserve a place please visit 15