How to Mediate a Dispute at Work

How to Mediate a Dispute at Work
Confrontations at home or at work are never easy. If left to fester, productivity and morale will suffer. When two sides cannot reach an agreement, it becomes necessary to step in as a mediator to help. Helping to reach a compromise will often keep productivity from declining. Here is how to successfully mediate a workplace dispute.

Realize that each side will have their own version of the situation. The old saying goes there is his side and her side but the truth lies somewhere in the middle. From the outset, do not choose sides no matter how convincing one individual may be over the other. Both sides must trust that the mediator is unbiased and will be able to subjectively look at the situation. Keep personal opinions and references out of the way.

Identify the source of the conflict. This will require research. Start by finding the facts. It is important to understand not all of the conflict is necessarily work related. Factors outside the workplace or personal issues may be contributing to the problem. Getting to the root cause of the both sides will help guide the issue to a speedier resolution.

Look past the incident to determine if intervention in the dispute is even necessary. Are there long term effects if the issue is not resolved? Is it necessary for the two parties to work together in the future? Is there a large following which can create a rift between more employees then the two that are directly involved? Understanding the far reaching implications of continued dispute must be taken into consideration.

Find a neutral location for all meetings while negotiating a solution. Meeting location is important. The “home court” advantage can often be intimidating. Don’t give either party the opportunity to feel superior as it will derail any attempt at arriving at a mutually agreed upon course of action.

Look for solutions. Involve both parties in brainstorming for possible problem solutions. By getting input from both sides, it will be easier to get buy-in on the final solution. During the brainstorming session, do not discount ideas from either side, this goes back to not playing favorites and keeping personal opinions out of the mediation. After brainstorming, pare down the suggestions to ideas that both parties feel they can work with. Don’t be discouraged if this requires several meetings. Patience is a key factor to resolving any issue. Don’t let either party stall the resolution, however, sometimes it’s necessary to be firm.

Once a resolution is reached, put it in writing and get signatures. This holds each person accountable for keeping their side of the agreement.

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