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How to take on the role of mediator


If you are in business management, you might, more often than you like, find yourself in the role of mediator.Generally, you mediate between two (or more) people who you directly manage.This often puts you in the role of boss, judge, and jury: not an enviable position.Hopefully, this how to guide will help you manage your mediation fairly and effectively.


Difficulty: medium hard


Step 1:Gather background information.Become familiar with the situation before setting up a meeting with the people involved.A mediation meeting can quickly get chaotic and out of control, especially if you allow the meeting to become a free for all.Before the meeting, get a good idea of the issue or issues involved and read any incident reports or complaints related to the situation.If the conflicted parties are from different departments in the company, you might want to get input from their department heads before proceeding.

Step 2:Formulate a plan.Once you know something about the dispute and the parties involved, you can form a plan for handling the mediation process. Decide things like how much time you will allow for the meeting and what your final goal in the process will be.Typically, you want the outcome to be a solution that is acceptable to both parties.If this is something that will require a written agreement, have the material available to write up contracts.Prepare for the meeting with whatever materials will be required.

Step 3:Schedule a meeting between the two parties.Ideally, the meeting should have a time frame of about an hour to an hour and a half.However, some issues will take more time to resolve.Consider the complexity of the issue when scheduling your meeting time and make sure there are no appointments or anything that will interfere with coming to a solution.

Step 4:State the rules.When you finally meet with the parties, set up ground rules.Define the specific problem that you will consider in the meeting.Explain that each person will get a chance to explain their position without interruption and when both parties have stated their position, they will begin to formulate a solution.Make it clear that you will not suggest solutions but that you are there to help each person clarify their position and to help them reach a decision about a solution or alternatives to the problem.

Step 5:Monitor the discussion.Once the parties start to speak, you will need to make sure that each person gets to state their case.You need to make sure that the parties are not interrupting each other and that each person is getting equal time. Do not let the discussion become an argument and do not let it get chaotic.Be careful that you don't appear to be biased towards either side.

Step 6:Get something in writing.Mediation is necessary when two (or more) parties are at an impasse about some issue.To move on, they need to decide how they will work around the issue causing the problem.Have them write down "rule" for handling the problem in the future.Before the meeting is over, they should each sign something that they feel good about.Give each party a copy of the agreement.

Tips and Warnings

Mediation can quickly get out of control if you let it.As the mediator, your job is to make sure that the meeting remains professional and businesslike.Describe the rules before the discussion even begins and be diligent about sticking to the rules.This process will get easier as you get more experience.

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