It’s fair to say that a lot of managers (and people in general!) avoid having difficult conversations with others and will exhibit ostrich style behaviour when they're faced with such a prospect.
Merely labelling them with the stigma of a ‘difficult’ conversation doesn’t help matters either. If somebody asked you whether you'd like to do something really difficult you'll probably decline their kind offer!
The truth is, line managers who are faced with the prospect of communicating something branded as ‘difficult’ are reluctant to face them. In reality, many HR professionals and senior managers are also just as reluctant - which is why so many formal grievances occur.
It isn't their fault though! People find these conversations 'difficult' because they simply don’t have the confidence - they don't have the confidence because they don't have the skills, tools and techniques. It's perfectly understandable!
Left alone, the problem will fester, thus making the situation increasingly more difficult as time goes on.
Mediation skills give line managers and HR the know-how to facilitate proper and productive conversations with employees. These real and honest conversations invariably resolve issues - so there's no need to waste time in grievances (which we all know resolve nothing).
As with most things in life, those 'difficult' conversations are normally the best way forward and those having the conversations wonder why they worried about it in the first place.
Most mediations we do (and we do lots!) result in employees asking "why couldn't we have had this conversation months or years ago"? The honest answer is they could have - they just needed a little help. This is exactly why we train line managers and HR professionals as internal mediators - they usually didn't need to call us in - they just needed the confidence to not avoid the 'difficult' conversation.
Nobody subscribes to 'ostrich management' but if we want our leaders to lead then we need to give them the skills and confidence to lift their heads out of the sand.