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Liddle in the Middle
David Liddle, one of the most experienced mediators in the UK and President of the Professional Mediators' Association provides advice to HR professionals and business leaders.
Question: How does mediation underpin and promote employee engagement?
Conflict creates a sense of losing control and anxiety. When it gets a grip, conflict promotes suspicion and undermines trust. (A core component of the psychological contract). Managers and leaders see alliances and camps being formed within their teams and groups - often exacerbated by rumours and gossip.
The conflict creates psychological as well as physiological harm. Conflict needs AIR to exist: our Actions, our Interactions and our Reactions fuel the conflict.
Think about a conflict you've been part of or that you have observed. Take a moment to list the:
We can see it and we can feel it
And what this loss does is that it causes people to feel disengaged at work. It is very difficult to feel engaged when you are in the middle of a conflict or a quarrel in the office.
By bringing people together to have open and honest conversations, not only does mediation help to resolve the root cause of the conflict, it also helps to build a level of engagement in the resolution process between the parties. Many of our existing dispute resolution procedures are built on adversarial justice models - in some case they actually perpetuate discord, disagreement and disengagement.
Reducing the barriers to employee engagement.
The benefits of using mediation to build an engaged workforce:
- It gives parties in a dispute a voice
- It encourages openness and honesty
- It builds empathic, adult to adult connections
- Parties focus on their interests and needs rather than the strength of their relative positions.
- The parties craft their own solutions - avoiding need for solutions to be imposed
- It encourages creative and innovative thinking
- Issues are resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties
According to the ground breaking engagement report by David Macloed and Nita Clarke 'Engaging for Success', engaged employees deliver better customer service, they are happier and they are more innovative and creative.
So my advice, for HR professionals and business leaders who are developing employee engagement programmes in their organisations, is to think about what role mediation plays. Consider as part of your programmes how you will engage employees during times of conflict and at times of change & crisis."Engaged employees have a sense of personal attachment to their work and organisation; they are motivated and able to give of their best to help it succeed – and from that comes a series of tangible benefits for organisation and individual alike."
The insight from Martin Luther King Jr 60 years ago is as relevant today as it was then. It can easily be applied to employee engagement programmes.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”
Martin Luther King Jr
“The ultimate measure of an engaged employee is not where he or she stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he or she stands at times of challenge and controversy”
More than dispute resolution
I hope that this answers your question and as always keep in touch - happy mediating !