Workplace Mediation -- It Makes You Complacent

Wait. It does? How?

I had a remark made to me by a potential client for mediation. She felt any approach to resolving workplace problems that included "multiple issues in a single setting is inherently unfair, mindless, robotic, and would lead to complacency." Ouch.

She is an officer with a large national labor union headquartered in D.C. and I have done some work with her locals around the country. I referred her to the ideas, advantages, and cautionary remarks from recent mediation postings found in both the media and professional forums. She said she had read a great deal about workplace mediation, but remained unconvinced of its value. Still, she was calling as a potential participant -- at the urging of her colleagues. Okay, this is terrific, I thought. And we chatted for quite some time.

The notion of complacency, however, never crossed my mind before she called. Perhaps that is because I have not experienced any sense of smugness by past mediation participants. Quite the contrary. Attorneys, business managers, HR pros, and staff reps all thoroughly vet mediation before deciding to take that route. They are quite focused and involved in every aspect of the process.

Much has been said or written about mediating employee workplace issues, whether it pertains to grievances, stalled negotiations, general employee complaints, benefit administration disputes, ethics issues, class-action or individual cases. Preparation, determining the appropriate mediation approach and style, and the identification of shared goals are each ingredients necessary for success.

Mediation is an indispensable tool that is best utilized in strained relationships to mitigate the high cost of legal proceedings, arbitration, or the worries about failure to represent. Mediation offers individual treatment and self-determination to the participants -- and results in improved trust among parties.

But complacency? Well, I just never have seen that. Thank goodness.


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.