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A Survey of Different Mediation Techniques Used for Employee Relations

written by: Vikas Vij•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 3/11/2011

Wish to manage your employee relations more effectively? Consider these mediation techniques that can lead to quick and fair conflict management and dispute resolution among employees.

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    Resolution of Interpersonal Conflicts in the Organization

    Managing Employee Relations Interpersonal conflicts may arise in any business organization between two or more employees. A number of factors can be responsible for such situations, but the role of the managers is to have an effective conflict management system in place to resolve such issues in the best possible manner. Managers may employ different mediation techniques to ensure a fair and constructive resolution of conflicts. The productivity of the business may be hampered if the conflicts prolong beyond a reasonable limit, or the frequency of conflicts is too high. That makes mediation a very important part of HR management.

    Photo Credit: www.sxc.hu arte_ram

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    Minimal Intervention Approach

    One of the best strategies of mediation between two conflicting parties is to maintain a careful watch from a distance, and allow the parties to resolve the conflict on their own. This encourages voluntary dispute settlement and makes the employees more responsible in reaching an amicable resolution on minor issues. However, the manager should be prepared to intervene if the two parties fail to arrive at a mutual settlement of the issue. The situation must not be ignored beyond a point where it may harm the interests of the company seriously.

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    Dispute Resolution through Discussion

    One of the most widely used and effective mediation techniques is to engage in a discussion over the issue across the table, with the manager as the mediator. The manager’s presence ensures that the decorum is maintained and both sides present their viewpoints frankly. The manager may help to clear the misunderstanding and lead to a settlement of the dispute. However, this technique is useful only if the manager is skilled in sensitive matters of mediation and conflict resolution.

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    Conflict Resolution through HR Team

    Some companies may not like to involve managers in the resolution of conflicts between the employees. This role may be clearly given to the HR department. The HR department may designate a trained employee or a team of employees to take up all the cases of internal conflicts within the organization and act as the mediator. This may be a fairer approach because the HR department is not likely to have a personal bias toward one party or the other in the conflict.

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    Professional Third Party Mediation

    Some business organizations prefer to hire outside professionals or agencies to act as a third party mediator or arbitor on behalf of the company. The advantage of this technique is it is likely to ensure the most objective and fair resolution of the conflict, without any fear or favor to either side. However, the limitation with this option is that whatever the third party mediator decides may have to be accepted by all, even if the decision may not be agreeable to the involved parties or the departmental manager.

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    Consensus Approach

    The final mediation technique is the consensus approach, and is used to dispute settlements by enlisting the support of senior managers and departmental colleagues in finding a solution that is equally fair to all the conflicting parties. This can be a constructive internal mechanism of conflict resolution. A tradition can be established that such disputes may be settled by arriving at a consensus, so that the judgment on the dispute is not handed out by an individual manager or boss, but by a number of people who all share a common viewpoint on the issue.

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    Reference

    Mediating Disputes on the Job (Jan 2010) retrieved at http://www.pon.harvard.edu/daily/mediation/mediating-disputes-on-the-job2/