Workplace mediation is an attractive approach to resolving workplace disputes between an employer and employee. The employee may want to keep their job and the employer may not want to lose the employee. But, the longer the situation goes unresolved and unaddressed the more likely litigation will be pursued and the process will probably make continued employment uncomfortable and unlikely.
Often these disputes can be successfully addressed by immediately opening up communication. Even if there is anger, as a mediator in Charleston SC, I will help the angry parties feel understood and validated so they don’t feel wrong or judged for being upset by the incident. Once more calm and open communication begins I allow both parties an opportunity to express what happened from their point of view. Oftentimes, the incident that sparked the dispute was the result of a misunderstanding or misinterpretation.
It can be helpful to shift the conversation from an argument about who is right and wrong to discussions that get both parties focused on solutions and understanding like, “What can we do to resolve this?,” “What seems fair?,” or “What can we do to help promote a healthy work environment going forward?”
It’s often assumed that after a harassment issue co-workers will be unable to understand the others point of view let alone restore a congenial working relationship. This may be true but sometimes harassment complaints are the result of differences in opinion on what is humorous, flattering, or appropriate. A harassing party may have misinterpreted the nature of the relationship and feel genuinely embarrassed that a sexual advance or innuendo was viewed as harassment. A sincere apology and explanation may fully resolve the discomfort them. A harassing party may not understand that their management style is interpreted as hostile and disrespectful and the accuser may misunderstand why they were passed over for a promotion. By explaining their feelings and perceptions the accuser may help the manager understand that their mannerisms and gestures have been offensive and the accused may explain that they have been so stressed and focused on work that they weren’t aware of how they are coming off and they’ll try to work on it. They may explain that the another person was more qualified for the position and it has nothing to do with them disliking them or a personal grudge. So, while in some instances lawsuits with employment lawyers or bad relations between employees may be unavoidable, it’s easy to see how quickly giving the disputers and opportunity to have a workplace mediated discussion can often resolve these issues simply by helping the parties to understand each other.
If an employee feels their termination was inappropriate they may pursue litigation out of anger but also so that they can get enough compensation to cover their expenses until they find another job. For the employer, these employment lawsuits can give them a reputation for poor job security and make it difficult to recruit and hire desirable employees in the future. In these cases fast, workplace mediation can help both parties communicate and understand each other’s point of view and reasons for disagreeing which may at least help the employee understand why they were dismissed. In addition, I can help the employee work out a severance package with the employer that is reasonable and fair to both parties thereby avoiding expensive and public litigation keeping the issue confidential and addressing both parties primary concerns.