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Making In-House Mediation Work for You
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Making In-House Mediation Work for You



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  • Each organisation will have a different range of typical issues: Conflict may be about individual behaviours Much of this is covered by harassment, bullying, discrimination, victimisation, equality, diversity, dignity policies. However, it might also include general meeting protocols, how constructive is criticism, how people communicate, how encouraging managers are, how performance is managed…etc Conflict may be about tasks This may be include arguments about which ideas to progress, why suggestions won’t work, why some people and not others have been allocated to attractive projects and why someone considers their work more relevant than another’s….etc Conflict may be about interpersonal interaction and teams Two people might disagree based on a combination of the above, others might be intimidated in some meetings and not contribute fully, some teams might be overly competitive and destroy the best ideas of the other team One response might not suit all It might be counter-productive to introduce mediation before some education has been delivered on the benefits of collaboration, or how to prevent disputes, and the place of mediation It might be useful to demonstrate the benefits of mediation to a sceptical employee group with external experts – before introducing internal mediators Fresh policies might need to be drafted first Internal mediation might not be credible – there might not be enough suitable people to ensure neutrality on each case, potential volunteers might not have enough of the skills needed In-house mediation might be one solution. It may need to be supported by other activity. It may not be the first thing you do.
  • We have an audit, and we can tailor it to your own organisation.
  • Once you have decided to introduce a mediation service and you have the outline plan and budget agreed, you need to start on the detailed planning. You may well have already been consulting with unions or other staff representatives before deciding that you want to introduce the service, but if not, it is vital that you start talking to them now to gain their support and buy-in. They will need to understand the benefits of mediation and you will need to agree with them when it will be offered and when it will not appropriate, such as in cases of gross misconduct, or where one party may not be in a suitable place mentally for going through the process. You may also need to agree with them whether mediation will always be expected in cases of conflict before or a formal grievance is raised, or whether it is an entirely voluntary option, so that they can brief their members appropriately. A detailed project plan should be determined to ensure that the scheme is introduced effectively. For example you do not want to publicise the service and change your policies before you have trained mediators available. At this stage you may want to consider appointing an external supplier to work with you on this project, which is expert in the field of workplace mediation, and who can help you with the process and the training. If so, , and if you have not already done so, it would ideal to start talking to potential organisations as soon as possible to get their ideas on what and how the service should be introduced, and so you can decide what you can do yourselves, and what areas you need help in. Make sure it is an organisation that has experience in workplace mediation and conflict resolution in the wider sense though – some are experienced at commercial or family mediation and do not understand the subtle differences in the work environment and the sensitivity and emotions that can occur in the workplace, particularly where manager/subordinate relationships are involved, or where conflict between peer team members is affecting productivity.
  • Volunteers – make sure that you produce a thorough selection process as the quality and competency of the mediators is key to the success of the process. Draw up a role spec and person spec and advertise these roles internally. Consider selecting people from all levels – they need to be seen as approachable and be able to build trust with each of the parties, so, for example, if most of your issues involve disputes between lower level employees and their manager, it may not be helpful to only have a selection of managers trained as mediators, as they may be perceived as biased by employees and as being on management’s side. You may wish to use Assessment Centres as one of the tools to help select volunteers – the cost of these can be offset against the cost of failure of possibly selecting people who do not successfully complete the training. We will talk more about this later. Most organisations treat these roles as voluntary and unpaid so that they can be carried out alongside an employee’s ‘day job’. It is important that volunteers speak to their manager before applying as it will mean that they will have to be released from normal duties from time to time. After selecting the volunteers they need to be trained. You will need to consider whether you want them to undertake accredited training such as ILM or OCN level, which is normally 6-8 days, and may include some academic content as well as skills training, and has a ‘pass or fail’ assessment at the end of the course, or whether you feel that purely skills training is paramount and sufficient, which may be covered in 4-5 days, but is unlikely to include assessment. You will need to review your policies and ensure that mediation as an option is referred to wherever appropriate – d@w, grievances. It goes without saying though that you do not want to introduce your new policies though until you have trained mediators to fulfil the service! You may want to consider including criteria for when an internal mediator may be allocated and when an external one from a third party organisation may be more appropriate eg on disputes involving senior employees. You will need to define a clear process for mediations, the documentation and boundaries of confidentiality during and after the process. Also, what will happen if it does not help to achieve a satisfactory conclusion. Communication of the service is key – you may want to do this gradually throughout the process so that employees become used to the idea, and welcome it. Gain the support of the unions and other representative groups will help. Do not forget managers – they need to be reassured that the service will not be dealing with issues ‘over their heads’ and taking away manager responsibility for resolving issues informally where they can themselves. You may want to consider some employee awareness sessions where the concept can be discussed with groups of employees and/or managers so that they fully understand the purpose of mediation, and the process. This will help to allay any fears and hopefully encourage employees with an issue to use the process rather than raise a a formal grievance. Many schemes fail because they have been introduced hastily without sufficient thought and planning as to what needs to be done and in what order, in line with the organisations normal consultative process, both with management and employees. You may need advice from others who have introduced schemes in other organisations as what has worked elsewhere. We have a number of mediators in our network who have many experiences we can draw on.
  • We have already talked about the importance of ensuring that the team to be trained as mediators is selected carefully. They are the ones who will be trained as mediators and the way that carry out mediations will be the standard against which the service will be judged. Is will be expensive for people to not complete or fail the training, and also expensive if mediations they undertake are not successful for any reason – perhaps because the grievance goes further to investigation or an ET, or because one or other party feels that the mediation has not been handled well or appropriately.
  • Some of the key skills and competencies of successful mediators are listed in this slide. The mediator is responsible for managing the process and the time spent on the mediation. Most mediations are completed in 1 -1.5 days, and will involve the mediator speaking to both parties separately throughout the day to find out the issues and common ground on which to work out a mutually agreeable solution. The mediator then will usually bring both parties together at the appropriate time to help them reach a solution and finalise the agreement. This means that the mediator has to manage time and process while ensuring that both parties feel that their issues and views are being heard and understood. They need to know when to turn from ‘listening’ to encouraging the parties to consider possible solutions, and then when to intervene try to bring about a conclusion. This is a careful balancing act, and the mediator needs to know when to move on, and how that can be achieved without either party feeling that they are being pressured in to making hasty decisions. The mediator must be empathetic to both parties and non-judgmental about what they are hearing – there are no right or wrongs. They must build trust between themselves and each of the parties. They are impartial and not on one side or the other. The mediator must facilitate an agreement between the parties as an outcome – the mediator does not suggest the agreement themselves – it is the parties who should reach the solutions and agreement themselves, with the help of the mediator. This perhaps shows that mediation is not suited to everyone – so volunteers must be carefully selected and those who do not have the basic competencies or skills at the outset should be carefully and sensitively rejected so that the reputation of the mediation service is not damaged right from the start.
  • The introduction of mediation in organisations often fails because mediators are ‘left to get on with it’ after their training. It is important that mediators are supported personally as well as in their role as a mediator so that the service is the best the parties to a mediation feel the process has not been fair, or that the mediator has not been impartial. This may also lead to increased cost as mediations fail to achieve agreed resolutions and may also lead to poor morale as employees and managers see the option as not being constructive or helpful. Make sure you know how you will support the newly trained, and even the more experienced, mediators.. In People Resolutions we recommend that newly trained mediators co-mediate with some-one more experienced for their first mediation or two, while they gain experience. This could be some-one internal to the organisation or an external mediator. After this, who do they go to for advice if they have a particularly difficult situation to deal with? Remember that your internal mediation team are argents of the organisation so the organisation has a duty of care to them as individuals as well as to the parties to the dispute. Finally - how will you judge the success of the service and ensure that ‘good’ practice is share amongst the mediation team? Facilitated Networking events and communication between team members, including a ‘buddy’ programme can all help in supporting the service.


  • 1. Welcome to the Making In-House Mediation Work for You Webinar Facilitated by Sam Musannif People Resolutions
  • 2. Objectives
    • Understand the benefits and practicalities of In-House Mediation through:
      • Appreciating the costs of workplace conflict in the UK
      • Understanding Mediation and its Uses
      • How to approach your Mediation Strategy
      • How to Introduce an In-House Mediation Scheme
      • Choosing your Mediation Team
  • 3. So, just how big is the conflict problem?
    • ‘ Poorly managed conflicts cost British employers £24 billion p.a.’ (OPP and CIPD).
    • Cost of Tribunal, typically £16-20,000.
    • The cost is seldom in your budget. It is demonstrable, measurable and reducible.
    • Losses are largely about - Productivity - Decisions - Turn over and Retention
    • So, how can In-House Mediation help?
  • 4. In-House Mediation Linda Hoskinson
  • 5. The Possible Goals
    • In-house mediation is usually considered when the organisation wants to:
      • Address potential conflict situations earlier
      • Take note of the trend towards mediation at work, its benefits and the encouragement from government
      • Have internal mediators trained, perhaps for the more routine situations
      • Change the culture.
  • 6. The Problem
    • Each organisation will have a different range of typical issues:
      • Conflict may be about individual behaviours
      • Conflict may be about tasks
      • Conflict may be about interpersonal interaction and teams
    • One response might not suit all
    • In-house mediation might be one solution. It may need to be supported by other activity.
  • 7. The Solution
    • Hence, before introducing an in-house mediation service, you might want to check:
      • Why you are introducing such a service – many fail
      • Should you conduct a conflict audit first? Who should you involve?
      • Should you increase the conflict/collaboration literacy in your organisation – the impact of learning & development
      • That you have weighed internal and external supply of mediation (or both)
      • Which actions are the most urgent or the most important?
      • That you have a strategy, an agreed budget and evaluation criteria.
  • 8. Getting it Right
    • Avoid following the herd
    • Consult widely. Consider conducting an audit, small or more comprehensively, to obtain facts to inform your strategy and budget
    • Check an in-house mediation service is for you
    • Make your case for budget, outline the activity planned, set standards and evaluation criteria
    • Manage your strategy. Check in-house mediation will be understood, delivered to standards, successful and supported
    • Deliver your strategy in priority order. In-house mediation might not be first step
    • Communicate, update, evaluate.
  • 9. Introducing Mediation Jenny Whitesmith
  • 10. Key Steps
    • Consult with key stakeholders – management and unions/staff representatives (if appropriate)
    • Make your business case and obtain budget approval
    • Outline project plan and timelines
      • Do you need an external and expert supplier to work with?
      • If so, how do you find the best one to work with to meet your organisation's needs?
  • 11. The Project Plan
    • Key questions:
      • How will you recruit volunteers for the mediator role?
      • How will you train them?
      • Do your policies need to be rewritten to include mediation as an option?
      • How will you publicise the service internally and set realistic expectations?
      • How will you ensure that managers understand the benefits of mediation and be reassured that they will not be undermined by the process
      • In what order must you carry out the above in line with your organisation's culture and process?
  • 12. Choosing Your Team Jenny Whitesmith
  • 13. The Process
      • Consider advertising roles internally across all grades/departments
      • Determine role and person specs
      • Be clear about your expectations and your, and their, obligations
      • Invite volunteers to apply but select carefully
      • Interview carefully against the competencies
      • Aptitude tests and personality questionnaires may be helpful – also Assessment Centres
  • 14. Key Skills/Competencies
    • Minimum key skills/competencies:
      • active listening
      • effective communication
      • questioning
      • reframing
      • building relationships/trust
      • empathy
      • non-judgemental
      • reasoning
      • creative problem-solving
      • impartiality
      • confidentiality
      • negotiating
      • handling strong emotions
  • 15. Review and Evaluation
      • Decide upfront how you will review the performance of the service:
        • success rate of mediations?
        • Reduction in number of grievances raised?
        • Feedback from the parties to mediations?
      • What support will you provide for the internal mediation team?
        • Networking events where they can share what works well and different approaches
        • Coaching/Mentoring by an experienced mediator in the early stages after training, or whenever appropriate
  • 16. Marketing Webinars/seminars
    • Seminars
    • 15 th  July – The HR Professionals Guide to Mediation
    • 5 th October: Business in HR
    • 18 th  November: Conflict Resolutions (North)
    • Webinars
    • 28 th  September: Absence Management
    • 2 nd  December: Engagement
    • Further information and booking is available at
  • 17. To further benefit our attendees we are holding a post webinar discussion. This will enable anyone to leave questions or start discussions about what you have heard during the webinar and our panel of experts will be on hand to reply to your comments. The rest of the People Resolutions are already logged on, awaiting your questions! To enter the discussions room please click on the following link: Log in using your details that you registered with for the webinar Then go to the ‘Discuss’ section and enter the ‘Post Events Discussion’ section to join in
  • 18. Thanks very much for your time From the team at People Resolutions and Hub Cap Digital