High-Value Outcomes Talks with Thornton Mason of Mediation Resolves

In an interview with Michel Toebe of High-Value Outcomes, Thornton Mason shared his thoughts on why mediation is important to bottom line company health. Read the interview here. (60 seconds)

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High-Value Outcomes is the Midwest's executive services organization offering mediation, negotiation, and stress/control consulting.

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Mediation Resolves specializes in settling workplace issues. And we keep the participants in control of their own decisions. Founded in 2011, Mediation Resolves believes in the idea that the differences between and among participants can be ended to the mutual satisfaction of all.

Failure Isn't Fatal -- Hesitation Is

Failure isn't fatal in a workplace mediation. But hesitation can be.

In a recent discussion with a new client about workplace mediation I was struck by what she had to say. She is an officer of a 30 employee organization and a member of their senior executive team. I am paraphrasing what she said a bit, but I am very close to her exact points, if not word for word.

 "We have been kidding ourselves by counting unresolved employment issues as a win for the company. Our apparent age-old strategy of kicking the grievance-can down the road has had measurable negative effects on the relationship between our employees, our customers, and our investors. We can see it, feel it, and are learning how to measure that dismay."

"The fast, fair, uncomplicated resolution of any kind of business problem minimizes the unproductive energy spent chewing on emotions or bemoaning an apparent disregard for employee concerns."

Great insight. She didn't have to sell me on her ideas. Many company policies and guidelines have been in place for decades. And they have taken on an almost religious life of their own.

"Shedding old policy history and designing a suitable, responsive approach to employee concerns is not hard. It is not costly. It is the right thing to do."

Did I mention that she has been with her company only 10 days?

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Thornton Mason is a national dispute resolution consultant and human relations mediator with 25 years of experience resolving over 1200 employee matters. His 60 Second Updates have a current reach of over 750,000 readers. He and Mediation Resolves focus on eliminating formal employee complaints, avoiding internal relationship disputes, preventing grievance backlogs, and restarting stalled labor negotiations.

Is Mediation As Indispensable As They Say?

I am going to make a grand claim: Workplace mediation is in fact indispensable to the overall health and bottom line of your company. Here is why I believe that:

Thanks to new technologies, employees now have the ability to share and become a recognized voice inside and outside of their company. Employees can (and do) share their ideas, frustrations, feedback, concerns, and feelings about their jobs, every day. And if a company doesn't listen and act upon good ideas and complaints then all the goodwill towards your team is for nothing.  

In the past, employees were expected to be silent. They did what they were told and that's it.  Today, your company is a living and breathing organism that must listen to what the employees (and customers) want, and how they feel, and respond accordingly.

Disagreement exists in healthy companies. That is not only a fact, it is to be encouraged. Periodically, however, difficult circumstances become a distraction and are not a welcome circumstance. When that happens, and it will, expertise should be sought to resolve the matter. Failure to seek professional advice is a weak trait and contrary to forming successful habits.

Is workplace mediation indispensable? Yes. Is it hard to get that first one going? Yes. Is it worth your time to become acquainted with the idea and concept of mediation? Absolutely. Take another 60 seconds here. See if indispensable is the right word.

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Thornton Mason is a national dispute resolution consultant and human relations mediator with 25 years of experience resolving over 1200 employee matters. His 60 Second Updates have a current reach of over 750,000 readers. He and Mediation Resolves focus on eliminating formal employee complaints, avoiding internal relationship disputes, preventing grievance backlogs, and restarting stalled labor negotiations.

In Mediation -- Respect Is Not Optional

It's required.

I lost an employer request for mediating an old and lingering issue when I started discussing conduct expectations. And not for a reason I anticipated.

The employer's rep said 'never mind' because of my explanation of respectful behavior. "Our boss will be attending. And he is a bully and antagonizes as a strategy. He thinks intimidation is perfectly okay." And he won't comply if asked otherwise? Nope.

I have been advised over the years not to set behavior standards for those attending a mediation. Some professionals (mediators, attorneys) say such expectations are not true to the inherent precepts of mediation. Yet with my experience of over 1200 workplace mediations I still discuss parameters for behavior that I believe encourage an atmosphere of successful conclusions.

I ask participants to be:

  • Prompt -- to arrive and return from breaks on time

  • Unplugged -- to turn off phones and tablets and avoid outside activities or visitors

  • Respectful -- towards everyone

  • Patient -- if they hear the same old things they have heard a dozen times before, it's okay

  • Creative -- because new solutions during mediation often are richer and more varied

  • Open minded -- to new ideas, even when they feel they have already compromised enough

  • Participative -- to speak out, be heard, be involved

  • Good listeners -- including focusing on the ideas not the personalities.

These ideas don't seem extraordinary to me. And running afoul of one boss who prefers bully behavior hasn't changed my mind on conduct basics.

Nonetheless, this reason for cancellation was surprising and disconcerting to hear. And it was disappointing to be dropped as their mediator for seeking a respectful behavior demeanor.

(On the other hand, there was also this request recently...)

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Thornton Mason is a national dispute resolution consultant and human relations mediator with 25 years of experience resolving over 1200 employee matters. His 60 Second Updates have a current reach of over 750,000 readers. He and Mediation Resolves focus on eliminating formal employee complaints, avoiding internal relationship disputes, preventing grievance backlogs, and restarting stalled labor negotiations.