4 Tips For Mediating Disputes Between Two Employees

Mediating disputes between two employees is hardly the most fun part of your job, but it is still necessary from time to time. To help you hone your mediation skills and enjoy being an even more effective manager, review the following tips. You can put any or all of them into practice and reap the results, such as a more peaceful work environment.

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Consider One-on-One Meetings First

Depending on the nature of the conflict and how upset both parties are, holding individual meetings first might be in everyone’s best interest. Schedule time with each employee and emphasize that you are not there to judge or “take sides.” It is your job to listen to them and try to extract the facts of the situation for efficient management and resolution. Put your phone and other devices on silent, and choose a private space to have the conversations, such as your office or an unused meeting room away from the main work space. The employees will feel more comfortable speaking openly if they do not have an “audience,” i.e. their fellow team members.

If you decide to record the conversations, let the employees know ahead of time for legal purposes. You can also take notes to help you keep the facts of the case organized.

Have a Group Meeting

Once individual meetings are over, if applicable, it’s time to sit down with both employees. Again, choose a private meeting area so the team members feel comfortable and willing to speak honestly about the issue. Make it clear that when one employee is speaking, the other team member must respectfully wait their turn instead of interrupting. After all, no one likes being interrupted and inflammatory responses can result.

After each party finishes speaking, discuss ways to resolve the situation. Both parties might need to compromise in order to move forward, which is normal. Neither individual will feel “slighted” if they both agree to make compromises that strengthen their professional relationship and contribute to a more harmonious office environment.

Get HR Involved

Unfortunately, there are some issues that call for the Human Resources department. These issues are typically severe, such as those that involve bullying or some form of harassment. In such cases, it is generally best to have one-on-one meetings but skip the group meeting and simply discuss the problem with HR. If there is a group meeting, it should include at least one member of the HR department, again for legal reasons. Some issues can call for temporary suspensions without pay or taking assorted classes about bullying and or harassment. Others can sadly call for employee termination.

Encourage Open Communication

Mediating disputes between two employees clearly calls for open communication, something that should continue after the issue has been resolved. If employees feel they can come to you and other managers with problems they cannot deal with on their own, the risk of serious conflicts diminishes. You can implement complementary programs as well, such as having a team meeting every week where everyone “checks in” and discusses any problems they are having. These sessions are not meant for employees to “tell on” each other and subsequently embarrass one another, rather they are designed to foster awareness, honesty, and empathy. Your team will appreciate your efforts to improve the work environment and create a more pleasant place for them to do their jobs.

When it comes to mediating disputes between employees, there is no hard and fast approach. Simply extract what’s best for your team from these tips and use them to create an environment everyone can enjoy.

For more about mediating disputes between two employees, contact Pollack Peacebuilding today!

Kent McGroarty

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