When there's a dispute at work the principles of mediation are the same as any other mediation, but the process is slightly different - mainly because of the end result required. Here our focus is all about re-establishing effective working relationships which will continue as long as both parties are employed.
In a commercial mediation (eg somebody has bought something and is unhappy with the quality) the aim of mediation is for the parties to reach a mutual agreement and avoid having to go to court - but they never need to see each other again (they usually go their separate ways after mediation).
The outcome we aim for in workplace mediation is very different - the aim is for the parties to not only resolve their current dispute, but also continue to work together. The relationship between employees at work doesn't have to be best of friends - but they need to respect each other, be courteous and work together effectively going forward. We focus on the longer-term working relationship as well as the immediate issue.
For this reason, we start discussions separately with parties to establish the issues and how people are really feeling (these conversations with the Mediator are highly confidential and not shared). The aim is to have joint discussions as soon as possible, but this is not something people should worry about as the Mediator controls and facilitates all discussions. Whilst the thought of being in the same room naturally sounds stressful when people have fallen out, we ensure that the environment and approach are as relaxing and informal as possible - we also gauge when the time is right.
Often disputes or grievances are between employees and managers, so there is an "employee and boss" relationship at work. This is irrelevant in terms of outcome or influence, which is why mediation by an independent organisation is advised - we are not influenced by hierarchies or company politics, we focus purely on the people involved. The company normally pays our fees but this has no influence on anything within the mediation - we are governed by very strict processes.
The pleasure we get from mediation in the workplace is seeing the relationships repaired. What the parties and organisations then need to do is to ensure that the agreed longer-term steps are implemented so that issues don't occur again - which we can also help with as part of our other services if required.