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Bullying and harassment complaints
Is mediation the answer?

by Nora Doherty

Who does the Mediation?

Mediation with individuals or team does require a high degree of expertise and communication skills, particularly when dealing with sensitive and emotionally volatile issues. Carrying out a workplace mediation without the necessary skills and experience could easily make the situation worse rather than better. Organisations who do not fully understand what mediation is are asking their personnel, welfare or counselling staff to 'add' on mediation to their services without adequate training. It is certainly true to say that the skills of mediation are not the same as counselling skills - they are very specific mediation and conflict resolution skills which are necessary to direct the mediation structure. Counselling and active listening skills are helpful but a mediator needs to learn a whole range of additional conflict resolution skills if they are to successfully and professionally manage the whole process, particularly within the context of personnel policies.

Organisations can use 'external' independent mediators or set up their own 'internal' mediation service, or have both i.e. call in external mediators in more complex situations where mediation experience and independence from the organisation particularly important.

If an organisation decides to have their own mediation service for employee complaints then it does take a lot of thought about how best to set it up, which staff are going to carry out the mediations and what training and support they require.

It is early days as yet for the field of workplace mediation but professional workplace mediation training courses - both public and in-house are now becoming available throughout the UK. While there is as yet no formal professional body for workplace mediation, choosing a training course accredited by a recognised UK accrediting body is likely to be the best way forwards as it will show evidence of competency-based learning.

It will not be too long before most public and private organisations will have written in mediation into their personnel procedures and established more effective 'internal' dispute resolution procedures.

In a world of rapid change and increasing demands within the work context, there has to be a diverse range of dispute resolution processes set up in order to clearly and fairly deal with the range of employee complaints and differences that will inevitably arise. Within this, workplace mediation is certainly going to play an important part.

Back to page 1 of this article

Page 2 - Case Studies

Nora Doherty is Director of Professional Mediation Resolutions (PMR) Ltd, which offers independent mediation, and a six-day Certificate Workplace Mediation training accredited by the Open College Network, in London and Derbyshire every year.

All details and course bookings via their web site or e-mail Nora on:

PMR Ltd have also released an informational, promotional training video/or dvd on 'Workplace Mediation - Rebuilding Working Relationships' which gives an explanation of what workplace mediation is, with graphics of its six step structure, principles and uses within organisations, alongside unique footage of two workplace mediations of typical inter-employee disputes, including a complaint of bullying against a manager.

The video/or dvd can be purchased directly on-line via PMR's web site on

This video will be of particular interest to organisations and human resource personnel considering including 'mediation' into their dispute resolution policies and to managers/trainers who need such a resource for mediation or conflict management skills training.'

Copyright © 2004 Nora Doherty, all rights reserved


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