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Mediation - guidance for management in employment cases

It’s helpful to have some basic guidance on any type of workplace mediation, and here Forbes suggests 12 things to do (and some not to do) when dealing with disputes as a manager, my favourite being “don’t mediate” by which they mean try to help the people sort it out themselves.

Mediation is ideal when you either don’t want to or can’t ”sort it out” yourself. At Northwest Mediation we have a high level of success in dealing with many types of dispute where parties have come to us not knowing how they can resolve their differences.

We’ve had it said many times after a mediation concludes that the parties really appreciate that we come in as independent mediators with a view to helping them find a solution – even if it means working weekends and evenings to help them help themselves.

Even after a successful mediation problems can arise as with the O’Hare International Airport's people mover.

The original dispute between the company installing the travelator system and the airport owners was settled by mediation with a view to the system being in place and moving passengers between terminals by November.

The deadline has now come and gone due to an unexpected mechanical issue, but instead of accusations of bad faith or trickery which might have been expected the parties who attended mediation and thus have a better understanding of the other side’s point of view acknowledge everything is being done to get the system up and running (or walking).

Aviation Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said “Both CDA [Chicago Department of Aviation] and Parsons (and its subcontractors) have, in my estimation, been working in good faith toward delivering on that goal, but a mechanical issue discovered during on-track testing has made meeting it all but impossible”

Had they gone to litigation over this matter I doubt the tone of communication would have been anything other than acrimonious.

Staying with airports this time in Fargo (great film) here the city leaders and the municipal airport authority have been arguing over the treatment of workers at Hector Airport.

They have now agreed a 45 day mediation (I’m guessing that would be more than our normal charge for a one day mediation of £850!).

One side wants to treat the workers as employees the other as city workers with the impact on rights and pay that those different groups have.

If no agreement is reached the whole authority could be dissolved and the city commission take over running the airport.

More guidance now for litigators and what they should do in mediation “down time”, as the headline suggests just because the mediator is out the room it’s not the same as when a judge stands you down there’s still lots to do.

Most lawyers (though not all) I’ve worked with make a continued effort before and during mediation to keep the momentum moving in a mediation towards a satisfactory conclusion.

I have known some who very obviously take a “more important” call (client care?) and then go off to deal with that or rattle out the email in response, and very occasionally they take the time I’m out the room to undo the work that’s been done, it’s rare and all it does is add time to the work.

It’s why quite often I leave parties with jobs to do while I’m out the room, not just thinking about how to reach an agreement but actually doing the work of looking at possible offers, crunching numbers, considering the effect on their families of their actions, a mediation is not a passive process for anyone involved. As I sued to say to work experience students - come prepared to work!

And with news here of the South West Train strikes announced for the Christmas season here we have news of how mediation can lead to a suspension of threatened strike action.

Service Employees International Union Local 521 has agreed for mediation in the next 30 days on behalf of its members.

The agreement comes after a 10 day strike last month in County Santa Clara (California). Janet Diaz chapter president of the union said “Our bargaining team believes that the Board of Supervisors and County would not have made this move if they didn’t want to reach a fair settlement. We are committed to working towards reaching a successful resolution during this mediation”.

The contentious issues are, as ever, pay but also the contribution required by employees of the county to their health care premiums.

Those involved represent about 50% of the whole of the county workforce and includes, cooks, engineers, social works and psychologists.

As we’ve said before choose to mediate early and resolve your issues effectively, timeously, and with less stress and costs than going to your solicitor.

You have an interest in the outcome the sooner you get round the mediation table the quicker you can move forward and avoid the grilling a cross examination in court would put you through.

By having a deep and meaningful discussions with parties the mediator elicits what the true “red-lines” are and where there is the potential for compromise, it is with this structured period of reflection that the parties are then able to reach an accord.

The flexible nature of mediation and the possible outcomes make it an ideal way to resolve disputes in an ever changing world and the open nature of discussions in mediation whilst remaining confidential allows all sides to engage fully in the process and understand the needs of all involved allowing parties to reach a conclusion which both sides can live with and move on.

There are so many situations which could have been resolved by early intervention of mediation it continues to surprise me the lengths the public (and some lawyers) will go to avoid referral.

Whether you need a mediator to help out with a construction matter in the Northwest, or council’s plans in Cheshire, a civil mediator in London, a commercial mediator in Manchester, a dispute resolution for your family in Liverpool, a neighbourhood mediation in Stockport, then our mediators at Northwest Mediation can help you avoid the gamble of court and take control of your solution.

Mediation is cheaper, quicker and less stressful than running any case to court, it can help with any dispute whether it's an employment issue or the sale at an under value of a property, a fight with a neighbour, family issues, commercial disputes, civil mediation or inheritance, wills and probate arguments.

Contact Northwest Mediation on 07931318347 or via email at

neighbour mediation; commercial dispute resolution; civil mediation; commercial dispute; corporate dispute; commercial mediator; family mediation; inheritance wills probate mediation; property mediator; civil mediator; civil litigation; fast track mediation; injury mediation

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