Internal mediation: is it always fair for all?
As businesses and their staff become increasingly aware of the value of professional mediation in internal conflict management, many larger businesses are creating their own in-house mediation services.
As a wholehearted advocate of professional conflict resolution, I endorse this approach as of definite value; conflict resolution services administered by trained practitioners will always be of benefit. In this article, however, I want to look at the merits of internal versus external conflict resolution services.
In my experience, there are several issues associated with internal conflict resolution, centring around issues of neutrality, confidentiality and experience, which external resolution services tend to circumvent.
Neutrality will generally arise as an issue during internal workplace mediation, regardless of the professional integrity of the internal mediator. At the very least, disputing parties will struggle to recognise impartiality if they feel, however subjectively, that their professional grievance is not being given sufficient weight.
Internal politics also enter into the internal mediation equation of workplace disputes; either party may struggle to be open and honest with a mediator they either know socially, or work alongside. However far removed within an organisation, there will always be an organisational relationship that connects the internal mediator to the mediated, subtly affecting objective mediation.
Spoken in confidence
Confidentiality is one of the lynchpins of effective employee mediation. Employees need to be able to express their grievance, and the impact it has had upon both their professional and private lives if necessary, in the knowledge that this sensitive information will go no further than the deliberations of the mediator. During an internal mediation process, all parties will be intensely aware of any compromising information, and the potential this has to impact and complicate future professional and social relationships.
Generally, internal mediators, whose professional mediation is limited to working within a single company, are likely to be less experienced, have less training and mediation experience than their external peers, and to be perceived in this light by their colleagues. Conflict resolution may be just one of a portfolio of responsibilities they perform within a company, leaving them without the time or will to effectively mediate complex cases.
While mediation training for managers and staff will always have a role in resolving minor workplace conflicts, for more involved disputes external mediation services are likely, in the long run, to save time, pain and money.
Contact us: for more information about our workplace mediation services in Worcestershire, speak with Ryan at Centre for Resolution now and see the clear road ahead. Sessions can take place face to face, via the telephone or Skype.