6 steps to mediate conflict between employees


As a manager, you know that workplace conflict can harm morale, productivity, and teamwork if not managed properly. To avoid these outcomes, you need to help your employees resolve their differences effectively, without taking sides or escalating the situation. Mediation is a helpful approach where a neutral third party assists conflicting parties in communicating, understanding each other’s perspectives, and finding a mutually acceptable solution.

Set ground rules for mediation

Before starting the mediation process, it’s crucial to establish expectations and guidelines for both parties. Meet with each participant individually, and explain the role of the mediator. Clarify that you are not there to judge or blame but to facilitate a constructive dialogue and help them reach an agreement. Ensure both parties agree to participate and ask them to commit to being respectful, honest, open-minded, and cooperative by setting ground rules.

Arrange a meeting

To mediate, arrange a face-to-face meeting after both parties agree. It’s important to choose a neutral and comfortable location where they can feel at ease and communicate effectively. Start by reviewing the ground rules and the purpose of mediation. Allow each side to express their point of view without interruption or feedback. This presents a chance for both parties to express their thoughts and worries, while you actively listen and address any potential misunderstandings.

Explore the issues together

You should now explore the underlying issues that have caused the conflict. Your role as a mediator is to ask open-ended questions, paraphrase what you hear, summarise the main points, and reflect back the emotions. Encourage each party to share their perspective and feelings, and to listen actively and empathetically to the other side. Try to identify the underlying needs and interests of each party, rather than focusing on their positions or demands.

Identify common ground

After understanding the issues and the needs of both parties, you can start searching for common ground where they can agree. Assist them in identifying any shared goals or values, such as striving for excellence, enhancing their relationship, or fostering a harmonious workplace. Collaborate to discover a solution that satisfies the requirements and interests of both parties. Use brainstorming techniques to generate as many ideas as possible, without judging or evaluating them at this stage.

Reach an agreement

After you have generated several possible solutions, evaluate them together and choose the one that works best for both parties. Write down the identified solution once it has been agreed upon. Ensure that both parties comprehend and consent to the provisions of the agreement. The agreement should be specific, realistic, measurable, and time-bound. It should also include how the parties will monitor and evaluate the implementation of the solution.

Follow up

The mediation process doesn’t end with the agreement. After concluding the mediation, follow up with both parties to ensure their satisfaction with the outcome and their commitment fulfillment. Provide feedback and support as needed, and celebrate any progress or achievements. If any issues arise, or if the agreement needs to be revised, offer to mediate again or refer them to another resource.

The key takeaways

Managers need to have strong conflict resolution skills, and they can utilise mediation to effectively resolve employee conflicts.

By taking these six crucial steps, managers can facilitate better communication, foster understanding of different perspectives, and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.

Successful mediation can also contribute to a positive and efficient workplace, leading to increased morale, productivity, and teamwork.

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