Helping people manage conflict at work

29 May 2019

Have you been in a situation at work where you have felt bullied or harassed? I know I have.

At the time I didn’t know how to describe what was happening to me, let alone give it a name. A colleague had just stopped speaking to me for no apparent reason, and pointedly ignored me in the workplace. I was young and didn’t know what to do. The person who I could have approached was related to the bully, so that wouldn’t have worked. When I tried to talk to a more senior member of staff about what was happening I ended up feeling exposed and vulnerable. So in the end, I left the job.

That was many years ago. These days employees are quicker to label what they are experiencing at work, and organisational procedures and employment laws are responsive to formal claims of bullying and harassment. I don’t think I would have followed either of those routes though, as the organisation was small and I cared about my colleagues.

I wish I had had the skills to have the difficult conversation with the bully. I would now. Better still, I wish the senior member of staff had suggested mediation.

Many organisations make use of mediators to facilitate these types of difficult conversations between employees at an early stage of a conflict. They do this to prevent an escalation in the conflict and to prevent the potential loss of the employee and their skills, and also because of the potential costs in terms of management time, legal fees and recruitment.

In workplace mediation, the mediator guides the parties through a process which is confidential and without prejudice. This means that anything said in the mediation remains between the mediator and the parties, and also cannot be used in any other process should the conflict persist. This gives the parties the assurance that they can be open with the mediator and with one another, without fear of repercussion. It also means that the rumour mill, so common in organisations, cannot be fuelled.

When would you need a mediator?

  • when dealing with allegations of bullying and harassment,
  • to intervene in disputes between individuals,
  • when assisting employees in returning to the workplace after an absence, particularly where it was a stress-induced absence, and
  • where teams are not communicating effectively.

Why would you call in a mediator?

  • for an impartial and unbiased approach,
  • facilitated by trained and experienced professionals, and
  • delivering timely and cost-effective solutions.

If you would like to hear more about the workplace mediation service that Conflict Dynamics offers, call Craig on +27 11 669 9578  for an off the record conversation.

If you are an accredited mediator and would like to expand your repertoire to include workplace mediation skills, attend a one-day development session on 25th July 2019. To review the course content click HERE and to book a place click HERE.

Felicity Steadman

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