4 Common Problems and Challenges for Mediators

Published: April 2, 2021 | Last Updated: January 1, 2024by Vanessa Rose

When workplace conflict requires intervention, employers may have to decide between flexing their own conflict resolution skills or getting the help of third-party mediation services. Mediation in all forms can be beneficial to life after conflict, facilitating collaborative solutions between those involved in the conflict while reducing collateral damage. But while mediation has its perks, it isn’t simply a wave of a wand. Whether mediating as an outside third-party resource or mediating conflict between your own employees, there are some common problems and challenges for mediators that can be overcome with the right set of tools.

Common Problems and Challenges for Mediators

Handling conflict in the workplace through mediation can be stressful, especially if you’re not used to it. Employers who climbed the ladder with other skills may find themselves struggling to address conflict. Whether you’re a professional mediator or an employer tasked with mediating conflict, you may experience similar challenges, especially if you’re new to the practice. Here are some of the common problems and challenges for mediators and how to address them.

Low Confidence

Mediating is a role in which you need to know when to be active and when to let others stretch new muscles. This can be difficult to navigate confidently if you’re not used to it. Experience will support an increase in confidence, of course. But new mediators can also be thoughtful about their conflict philosophies and make sure they really believe in the foundation from which they practice. This type of grounded clarity can make up for experience while the confidence builds.

Lack of Training or Support

If you’re tasked with managing employee conflict, you’ll at least want to build some basic conflict resolution skills. As the field of mediation continues to evolve and new research leads the way to new approaches, learning can feel as overwhelming as it does expansive. But there are courses such as conflict communication training available to help you. And don’t be shy about asking for support from those around you, as well.

Lack of Authority Over Solutions

Each party involved in mediation should collaborate on a solution, but depending on the authority of those involved — including the mediator — some solutions may require approval from a superior employer, complicating handling confrontation at work. This can impede the mediation process by slowing it down, but be sure to stay on track and encourage creative problem-solving even if not all solutions are possible.

Disagreement on Key Issues

Employee conflict resolution strategies are most successful when mediators listen to the concerns of disputing parties and can facilitate a consensus on the main issues. If a mediator is unable to help disputing parties reach that joint understanding, they should continue their efforts before moving on to the next step, otherwise trust may fade and conflict re-ignite.

Minimize the impacts of problems and challenges for mediators by getting training and support from the pros. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.

Vanessa Rose

Vanessa is a licensed psychotherapist and writer living in Los Angeles. When not on a mission for inner peace and conflict resolution, she enjoys making art, visiting the beach, and taking dog portraits. Always curious about self-improvement and emotional expansion, Vanessa also manages her own website which explores the unconscious and archetypal influences on how we eat, express, and relate.