I came across this article on LinkedIn.com and really enjoyed it. In From Argument to Engagement, David Liddle discusses how traditional HR grievance resolution methods do little to actually help resolve conflict in the work place:
Traditional grievance or bullying and harassment procedures do little to resolve disputes. Drawing on a quasi-legal structure they are inherently formal and profoundly adversarial. When I speak with employees, managers and HR professionals, they tell me that they do everything that they can to avoid going into a grievance procedure. When they do however encounter the grievance process, the experience has been described to me as harrowing; upsetting; destructive; stressful; frightening; and ultimately counterproductive. Let’s not forget that this is the procedure of choice for resolving disputes in the majority of… organisations.
The dichotomy is plain to see. I call it ‘The HR Paradox’. HR professionals, on the one hand, are a key proponent and enabler of employee engagement. Yet on the other hand, HR are the custodians of a dispute resolution system which tears workplace relationships asunder. The HR Paradox has the potential to undermine the legitimacy of HR and in doing so, it creates the potential for cynicism and distrust of employee engagement initiatives. Nevertheless, employee engagement, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), is a core function of the HR profession.
He then goes on to discuss mediation, what it is, and how it can help your organization.
Mediation can be defined as a:
- Framework – a process whereby a neutral third party intervenes in a dispute to help the parties to secure a satisfactory and constructive resolution.
- Competence – a set of skills that HR, managers and business leaders use to secure constructive outcomes at times of conflict, change and crisis.
- Mind-set – a way of thinking and an organisational culture which embraces dialogue and collaboration rather than blame and retribution.
The mediator is an impartial third party. They help the disputing parties to have an open and honest dialogue so that they can identify and secure a mutually acceptable outcome. A win/win outcome. Mediation is different because it about collaborating rather than blaming.
Mediation is an opportunity for parties-in-conflict to have a new conversation. Mediation provides parties both the privilege and the burden of creating their future.
The benefits of using mediation to build an engaged workforce:
- It gives parties in a dispute a voice and a chance to be heard.
- It encourages openness and honesty.
- It generates empathetic, adult to adult connections.
- Parties focus on their interests and needs rather than the strength of their relative positions.
- The parties craft their own solutions – avoiding the need for solutions to be imposed.
- It encourages creative and innovative thinking.
- Issues are resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.
- It develops resilience – for individuals and for teams.
- It underpins economic growth and drives competitive advantage.
I would LOVE to find a way to integrate mediation into my workplace, even in my own little corner of the organization. Being a grunt, I don’t really have a way to do this presently.