Workplace Mediation -- It's A Matter Of Trust

Thank you, Billy Joel. It is a matter of trust.

Recent discussions by professional groups suggest that a lack of trust between opposing workplace parties is the core reason issues remain unresolved. Lingering complaints, disagreements, and grievances have more to do with the emotions involved than with the details or costs of an actual settlement.

Employees don't trust the employer to do what is right. Employees and their representatives (and many government agencies) tend to believe that employers live by the proviso of "do the least we can to settle and just make it go away."

Employers conversely fear that any resolution will evolve into a precedent setting, company-wide policy that must be meted out with exacting equity - or perhaps better said "If we do this thing now we are always going to have to do it, and do it for everyone."

A key advantage to workplace mediation is that it surfaces those fears, addresses them, and overcomes them. Strict legal forums don't allow for much more than facts, supporting evidence, tight procedural rules, and handing over the issue to someone who declares the winner. The resulting merry-go-round is that both the losers and winners return to work holding onto their distrust and waiting for the next battle of wits to take place.

When mediation participants work together to find the solution and to realize their commonality then it no longer is just "a constant battle for the ultimate state of control." It is moving forward. It is utilizing workplace mediation to assure the best application of everyone's abilities, along lines of excellence.


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.