5 Dispute Resolution Errors You Can Avoid with Mediation Training for Professionals
Dec 28, 2016
At first, mediators will usually meet with each party separately, to understand their point of view and proposed resolutions
Contrary to popular thinking, occasional conflicts at work are actually a good thing. It’s normal for employees and managers to have disagreements and see things differently. This is a sign of engaged, passionate, dedicated staff who feel personally invested in the success of the business or organization.
A workplace with zero conflict is likely a space in which people are afraid to share their opinions—or are simply too apathetic and disconnected to care.
What’s key about conflict in the workplace is learning how to manage and direct it toward positive outcomes. And this takes real skill and experience. As more companies turn their focus toward stemming attrition rates and encouraging employee loyalty, there is a growing focus on the value of workplace mediation training for people in management roles.
This shift makes perfect sense. After all, research shows that difficulties with co-workers is among the top 5 reasons people quit their job. And in a recent survey of 7000 employees, a whopping 50% cited “getting away from their manager” as a main reason for quitting.
Want to build a healthier, more productive workplace? Here are five conflict resolution blunders you can avoid with workplace mediation training.
1. Ignoring the Problem: Fostering an Atmosphere of Animosity
Most of us like to avoid conflict at all costs. Managers and business owners are no exception, and many would rather ignore employee disagreements than face them head-on with proactive measures.
Many managers embrace the “let them work it out themselves” approach, assuming the parties involved have the capacity and motivation to resolve their own disputes. But this philosophy fails to take into account power structures within the workplace—such as the junior employee who feels he simply cannot confront a managing director—or the fact that employees will often let problems fester because they too loathe the idea of confrontation.
What we end up with is a workplace rife with animosity, repressed emotions, and disillusioned employees. This is a deal-breaker for many people. Research compiled by Manila Recruitment found that 15% of employees will quit because of a lack of communication, positive relationships, and transparency in their workplace. It’s clear that ignoring disputes at work comes at a high cost in human capitol.
2. Taking Sides: Impartiality is the Cornerstone of Mediation
One of the first rules of mediation training for professionals is to resist taking sides or appearing impartial during conflict resolution. Both parties must trust that the mediator represents their interests equally, or the process will quickly disintegrate. This means affording both parties the same amount of time to explain their points of view, and ensuring you don’t appear to favour one response or opinion over the other. Mediation courses break down the tactical skills necessary for maintaining an neutral stance, and ensuring both parties feel equally heard and acknowledged.
3. Getting Emotional: Mediators Must Hold the Center
Disputing parties aren’t the only ones dealing with strong emotions during a workplace conflict! Managers and owners in mediating roles must also contend with volatile feelings when employees collide.
Effective mediation means being the “rock” in the room—holding the emotional center so opposing employees feel calmer, and can get closer to the real roots of their dispute. Mediators learn techniques to maintain a sense of calm and shared purpose, which are crucial for guiding participants toward actionable resolutions.
4. Focussing on Grievances Versus Resolutions
When employees clash, it is often the result of a series of unresolved conflicts that have finally boiled over into a full-fledged fight.
One of the biggest blunders managers can make while mediating employee conflicts is allowing both parties to share long laundry lists of past grievances—which may date back months or even years!
Mediation courses teach managers how to bypass this excavation of past complaints and focus instead on finding mutually appealing resolutions. The ability to shift focus from complaining to solution-building is one of the most important skills of the trained workplace mediator.
5. Overlooking Motivations & Needs
While it’s important to avoid getting bogged down in past grievances, mediators must be careful not to skim over what is truly at the root of their employees’ conflict. Arguments over who gets the new corner office, or how workflows could be better managed are rarely about those things exclusively.
For example, it is more likely that the conflict about the office has to do with employees feeling underappreciated, lacking in authority, or legitimately uncomfortable in their present work space. It could be as simple as one person desperately wanting a better view to lift their spirits during office hours.
Mediation training helps managers uncover the true needs and motivations that fuel conflict, because only then can opposing parties begin to understand one another, and become open to finding solutions.
Are you looking for proactive ways to resolve disputes at your workplace, and ensure your valued employees remain happy and loyal?
Consider taking online mediation classes for professionals. Kompass Professional Development offers a comprehensive 12-week Mediation for Professionals Certificate. The program is delivered online, and for a limited time, the first course is free!
Visit the program page for full details, to grab your spot in the free course, or to chat live with an academic advisor. We’ll help you get started.
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