OK, so it wasn’t really a bar. It was a nice meeting room, but it felt a lot like a bar-room-brawl.  There was finger pointing, turf battling, name calling, accusation throwing, “I dare you to cross this line” taunting, yelling, and even tears. It was two executives and a workplace mediator, spending a day together talking through positions, interests, motivations, and possibilities. As is often the case, there was one big glaring motivator hanging over the executives’ heads: Figure out how to work together successfully, or at least one of you might have to go.

What is the role of a workplace mediator? When I tell people what I do, the first response is often “Oh! You get brought in to deal the the nasty litigated issues. Thank goodness, we don’t have those problems.” It is true, as a workplace mediator, I may help to resolve the “nasty litigated issues”, but it is most rewarding when I am called-in to help talented employees salvage relationships, develop new behavioral and process agreements, and create a move-forward path that will benefit them as individuals – as well as their respective organizations.

Resolving the “nasty litigated issues” is important work. However, it is generally all about how much one party will pay the other to go away – hopefully quietly. Proactive workplace mediation is about shifting paradigms and coming up with win/win/win agreements that keep talented individuals on-the-job, developing skills, and moving forward with success.  The workplace mediator enters the situation as an objective outsider, bound by confidentiality, with absolutely no horse in the race.  Participants have shared with me they feel valued – because of leadership’s investment in the mediation -and they feel safe to talk through their “stuff” without the fear of information being misinterpreted or used against them down the road.  The written agreements of workplace mediation may or may not be shared – that is decided by participants and their leadership, prior to mediation being held.  The discussions, and the “how we got to agreement”, remain confidential.

By now you might be wondering what happened with those two executives… Well, through the workplace mediation process, they came up with a new inter-departmental communication path and processes, as well as agreements on how to keep each-other informed and collaborate on issues that cross department lines.  Two years later, their agreements have held. They aren’t best friends, but they are good colleagues.  Most importantly, the negative impact their feud was having on their staff members’ productivity disappeared; each is modelling behaviors aligned with the organization’s core values; and their boss is quite pleased with them both.  Win/Win/Win.  I love my job!

Call or email us today to discuss how your organization might benefit from proactive mediation with one of our professional workplace mediators.

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