Things To Do Before, Or Instead Of, Mediation

In the latest in a series of articles aimed at putting myself out of business this one could be sub-titled “Have You Told Your People What You Want Them To Do?”

Well who wants to be rich anyway!? Over the last 6 months I have found myself in a couple of awkward situations around mediation. This is not awkward in terms of the conflict, happy to deal with that, but awkward in gradual awakening that mediation has not been the right solution to the challenge the company or department I am working with.

The first example was a team mediation event involving 30 colleagues where there had been factionalism, back biting and formal complaints. As we worked through the session it dawned on me that, although the team leaders were present, we just weren’t hearing from them. During a break I told the team leader group that I would like to hear their views about how these people should work together in the future. After the break, the same, nothing. In the washup after the team had left I asked the Team Leaders about this and it seemed that they didn’t know. Yes, they didn’t know – or couldn’t articulate – how they wanted their reports to behave towards each other!

The second example involved me turning down some work for the same reasons. The HR department were presenting the need in terms of relationships between two managers in the line but when I asked what the organisation considered important in terms of management, no-one could give me an answer. They didn’t know. They had a first line manager who was completely process-driven, aloof and was apparently reluctant to spend anytime with their staff. This person wasn’t doing their job but nobody was able to articulate what was important about the management role.

Mediation may have helped a bit but the crisis was one of leadership and at two levels, knowing what is important and secondly articulating it. Mediation is a great tool like a high quality, dropped-forged wrench. However it’s not much cop if really you need a screwdriver.







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