Workplace Mediation -- Steve Jobs Liked It, He Just Might Not Have Known It

So much has been written about Steve Jobs that it is hard to find the time to read it all. And soon a second full length movie about his life will hit the theaters. No doubt, the focus of this bio-pic will be on his eccentricities and abrasive behavior.

When you look past all of his drama, though, you find that Jobs promoted workplace mediation. Even for his executive team. And he was surprisingly supportive of conflict resolution - particularly speedy conflict resolution. What did Jobs teach us about workplace mediation?

Collaboration Works: Jobs was successful. Extremely successful. Part of his game changing style was his collaborative approach. I know this might be hard to believe at times. After all, he could fire and rehire someone within minutes. However he held in high regard the notion of consensus -- and consensus requires collaboration. He worked with others for the common good, even when that included working around those he viewed as frustrating personalities. Collaboration is certainly a driving force in workplace mediation -- participants work together to solve the unsolvable in an atmosphere of cooperation.

Problem Solving Is Essential: Jobs encouraged ideas, creative thinking and measured approaches to problem solving. Every one was expected to participate, every one was involved. Workplace mediation establishes an atmosphere where all the participants join in, are allowed to be creative, and are encouraged to give and thus to gain. Successful mediation does not dismiss anyone or any one idea. It creates a problem solving potential that allows people to use their fullest powers along lines of excellence.

Speed Makes A Difference: I don't believe that I have ever heard Steve Jobs was a patient man. He kept the behemoth moving forward, never hesitating, never stopping, never retreating. Conversely, employee dissatisfaction at work is an unnecessary distraction. By not resolving this distraction in a timely manner you unwittingly create annoyance. And annoyance extracts huge amounts of energy and commitment from employees. Things slow down. Jobs knew that responsible parties must get to their conclusion quickly, resolving the issue, and moving on to do the next bit of vital work. Mediation in the workplace accelerates closure. Very often mediation gets you same day, constructive answers, with commitments to bring an employee complaint to an end, now.

Steve Jobs defied any definitive description. He did, though, seek collaboration to solve the problems that surrounded him -- even the most minute ones. He demanded that persistent, forward movement be a measurable business objective. And these very same characteristics that Jobs exhibited are the reasons that mediating workplace issues is so successful.

I believe Jobs liked workplace mediation, even if he never quite got around to saying so.

Or did he? I still haven't read a third of what has been written about him.

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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 400,000 readers. He and Mediation Resolves focus on eliminating formal employee complaints, avoiding internal relationship disputes, preventing grievance backlogs, and restarting stalled labor negotiations.