What Methods Successfully Mediate Employee Disputes?

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    CHRO Daily

    What Methods Successfully Mediate Employee Disputes?

    Navigating employee conflicts can be a delicate endeavor, so we've gathered insights from top HR professionals on successful mediation strategies. From arranging private meetings to facilitate structured, respectful conversations, explore five expert techniques to preserve a positive work environment.

    • Arrange Private Meetings, Ensure Fairness
    • View Disputes as Growth Opportunities
    • Foster Honest, Unbiased Communication
    • Act Quickly, Facilitate Unbiased Mediation
    • Facilitate Structured, Respectful Conversations

    Arrange Private Meetings, Ensure Fairness

    As a CHRO, I once mediated a dispute between two employees over workplace behaviors. I began by arranging a private meeting and made sure to treat it with the seriousness it deserved. I listened to both sides empathetically without allowing interruptions. By paraphrasing their perspectives, I confirmed understanding and defused some initial tension. We broke down the conflict into smaller, manageable parts and identified common goals. Both employees felt heard, and we agreed on actionable steps to avoid future issues.

    Deborah MaynardCHRO, Coast Mental Health

    View Disputes as Growth Opportunities

    We should not view disputes as problems but as opportunities to learn and grow. Building stronger teams through mediating disputes is not about avoiding conflict, but about navigating it skillfully to achieve better outcomes for all the employees involved.

    Successfully mediating disputes involves proactive preparation, empathetic listening, facilitating constructive dialogue, and promoting collaborative problem-solving. By fostering a positive work environment through effective conflict resolution, we contribute to overall organizational success and employee satisfaction.

    Deepti MehtaCHRO, Interface Microsystems

    Foster Honest, Unbiased Communication

    Employee disputes often stem from conversations that never happened or were mishandled. Honest, unbiased listening, understanding different personalities, and managing emotions are crucial. The art of crucial conversations is essential, especially when repairing relationships. Open communication and ongoing effort on relationship-building foster a healthy workplace culture. I recommend maintaining a relationship-strength map for all stakeholders and working on it consistently.

    Manoj ChaudharyChief Human Resources Officer, Edelweiss Mutual Fund

    Act Quickly, Facilitate Unbiased Mediation

    In today's workplace environment, it is important to recognize that employees bring with them to the workplace the complexities of diverse communities, groups, and identities, and the expectations that the workplace will be a safe place for all. These complexities and expectations can lead to misunderstandings and disputes if (1) roles are not appropriately clarified for employees and leaders, (2) performance measurements and KPIs are not appropriately defined, (3) the workplace does not foster positive collaboration and a respectful environment, and (4) organizational and leadership communication is not well-defined or is non-existent.

    If a dispute arises between employees and is not addressed quickly and appropriately in an unbiased and effective manner, such as through a mediation process, there could be the potential risk to the well-being of the employees and there could be a broader detrimental impact, leading to decreased employee morale, employee retention issues, increased turnover rates, and potential legal liabilities and costs. Although there is not a mandated and set timeline to address a dispute between employees, the best practice is to act immediately to maintain a positive work environment.

    A successful mediation is a facilitated process with the mediator assisting the employees to work towards their own solution in an unbiased manner. The mediation process also:

    • Requires that the employees agree to participate in the process.

    • The process must allow each of the employees the opportunity to speak and share their perspective in a respectful manner.

    • The process must also allow for active listening and sharing of all relevant information to move towards a shared agreement.

    It is also important to ensure the impartiality of the mediator, especially if the plan is to engage an internal party within the workplace to facilitate the investigation. The complexity of relationships and reporting structure within the workplace could detrimentally impact the mediation process. As such, who handles the mediation, whether that is Human Resources, internal or external legal counsel, or an external mediator, is extremely important. Regardless, the mediator must have the appropriate training to conduct a successful mediation and ensure a positive environment is maintained.

    Ingrid Wilson
    Ingrid WilsonSenior HR Executive & CHRO| Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Strategist, GridFern Strategic HR

    Facilitate Structured, Respectful Conversations

    At DayJob Recruitment, I once successfully mediated a dispute between two employees by facilitating a structured conversation. I started by meeting with each employee individually to understand their perspectives. Then, I brought them together in a neutral setting and established ground rules for respectful communication.

    During the mediation, I encouraged them to express their concerns and listen to each other without interruption. We focused on finding common ground and identifying mutually agreeable solutions. This process not only resolved the conflict but also strengthened their working relationship, helping to maintain a positive work environment.

    Ana Alipat
    Ana AlipatRecruitment Team Lead, Dayjob Recruitment