You have some employees who are not getting on. You are not sure the exact reason why but you can see the relationship is suffering and is spilling out to other members of the team. This disagreement is affecting productivity and is resulting in sickness absences. Team members are taking sides, you are picking up snippets of conversations and differing viewpoints and there is division in the team. You want to sort this situation out but are not sure of the best approach. You want your staff to be happy and productive; you are worried about longer term effects on your staff and in your business. What do you do?

Mediate the misunderstandings

We often find that misunderstanding is the key word used in mediation. Communications have been misunderstood; how many times have we interpreted an email in a way that it was not intended? Misinterpretations can then lead to misunderstanding which can lead to tension and disagreements. Usually the tension is between two colleagues but this can spill out to the wider team resulting in ‘sides’ being taken which causes division. Mediation is the go-to strategy in such situations where parties can air their grievances in a safe, confidential space to enable them to work towards restoring relationships. Mediation is about openness and mutual contribution. It is a good tool to ‘nip in the bud’ these types of situations. Mediations tend to be quick. They can be set up quickly and are generally completed in one day.

What is not suitable for mediation? 

If for example an allegation of sexual harassment has been made this would not be suitable for mediation.

Investigate the alleged wrongdoings

An investigation would be more appropriate where something has already allegedly gone wrong such as bullying, harassment, discrimination or behaviour that could amount to disciplinary. The investigator is used to get to the bottom of the alleged wrongdoing by interviewing the parties, examining the facts and collating evidence. Investigations can take some time depending on the nature of the investigation and can lead to other internal processes.

What is not suitable for investigation?

If for example there is a case of disagreement and bickering an investigation might be seen as a heavy handed approach and potentially damaging to the relationship of the parties.

If unsure, ask for advice

It is important to look at each situation and the context carefully. We are on hand to advise you which course of action would be most appropriate.