What are the goals of mediation?

The ultimate goal of mediation is to rebuild damaged working relationships so they are stronger than they were before the conflict occurred. Our objective is for both you and your colleague(s) to leave the mediation session believing you have been given every opportunity to express your needs, and to develop an agreement which will enable you to work together effectively in the future.

What is the legal standing of mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary negotiation process. It is not a legal proceeding and the aim is not to find fault. Rather, mediation aims to create an agreement between you and your colleague(s) describing how you will work together more effectively in the future.

Your mediator cannot and will not offer you any legal advice. Your mediator cannot and will not act as an advocate for you, or for anyone else.  The details of your mediation session are also not admissible in any subsequent investigations or contested proceedings. We will not testify in any such proceedings.

Does mediation really work?

We believe in mediation. We have facilitated many successful mediation processes. Our experience has shown us that people come to mediation because their working relationship has become unsustainable. Therefore, we take every possible step to ensure the success of the mediation. Prior to mediation, we assess each party’s readiness and willingness to enter into  mediation. We clearly explain the process we will follow, the ethics involved, and our expectations regarding confidentiality. This gives participants greater confidence in the process, which in turn increases the likelihood of a positive outcome. Our experiences has shown that mediation results in a successful agreement in over 80% of cases.

Because you and your colleagues need to work together harmoniously, our mediations address those interpersonal issues which always arise in workplace conflict. Lim and Carnivale (1990) found that mediation processes that focus on relationships result in significant improvement in interpersonal interactions. Such mediations are more likely to result in successful agreements than mediations which do not address interpersonal issues.

I feel embarrassed about being involved in this conflict. If I ignore it, won’t it go away?

Probably not. But there is no shame in being embroiled in a workplace conflict—it can happen to the best of us. Avoiding conflict, exhibiting passive-aggressive behaviour or sniping at work colleagues—these strategies do reflect poorly on those who use them. Admitting that you need help to address a conflict and rebuild your working relationship demonstrates strength of character.

What are the rules about confidentiality for mediation?

Throughout the entire mediation process, all discussions (and any tabled materials, except for any final signed agreement) remain privileged and confidential. They may not be disclosed to parties not involved in the mediation process unless otherwise agreed during mediation.

We will not reveal any information provided by you or any other participant in the mediation session to any third party, without the consent of all participants.

Having said this, we believe that mediation provides an opportunity for all parties and for your organisation to learn. We believe that your observations may help others learn, and help your organisation build a stronger future. In such cases we will consult with you to determine the best way forward, with your well-being as our primary consideration.

The only exceptions to this nondisclosure policy are as follows:

  1. if all parties to the mediation, including the mediator, agree in writing to allow disclosure to certain other people
  2. if the mediator reasonably believes that a participant will cause physical harm to himself or herself, or to another person.

Since the parties are disclosing sensitive information in good faith, any breach of this confidentiality may undermine the process and progress of reconciliation.

How is Brisbane Workplace Mediations different from other providers?

Before establishing Brisbane Workplace Mediations, we consulted with our clients, to identify the qualities they valued most in a mediator. As a result, we developed an approach to mediation which:

  1. focuses on people, rather than on process
  2. can be adapted and customised to meet your unique needs
  3. allows you and your colleague(s) to express your views, and to know that you have been heard
  4. helps you involved understand the causes of the conflict
  5. enables you to express your needs and wishes clearly
  6. encourages you and your colleague(s) to work collaboratively to resolve the conflict.

We also realise that conflict does not occur in a vacuum. A mediation session may reveal the need for additional skilling, personal development, or role clarification. As skilled organisational development practitioners, we can work with your organisation to address any larger issues that arise during mediation.

Can you tell me more about your core values, approaches, processes, and techniques?

To learn more about our core values, and our approach to mediation, click here.

To explore some of the different mediation options available, click here.

What are your qualifications and experience?

We have assembled a team of mediators with a broad range of experience in business, government and academia. You can find our bios here.

Where will the mediation be held? 

We prefer to come to your workplace, as it minimises the disruption to your team. Usually your HR staff or your manager will arrange a meeting room where the pre-mediation interviews and the mediation itself can be conducted in private.

If your organisation does not have appropriate meeting rooms at your offices, we will ask your HR staff or your manager to arrange a suitable venue off-site.

Am I obliged to participate?

Your participation in any mediation process is entirely voluntary.

How much will I have to disclose?

We encourage you to be as open and honest as possible during mediation. However, you are responsible for your own comfort levels, so you decide how much you wish to reveal of yourself. You will have opportunities to speak privately with the mediator if you wish to explore any concerns you may have about disclosure.

Disclosure requires an open heart, an open mind, and generosity towards your colleagues. This cannot be forced. We have found that when two people come to mediation because they honestly wish to resolve a disagreement, then an appropriate level of disclosure emerges naturally as the mediation progresses.

What is the relationship between Brisbane Workplace Mediations and my organisation?

BWM is a completely independent organisation, whose professional consultants provide impartial support and solutions. We do not undertake any assignment where a perceived conflict of interest exists.

How do I know that you’ll look after my interests, rather than the interests of my manager, or HR? 

It’s true that we are usually engaged by HR departments or by managers. This makes them our initial clients. We are accountable to them for the processes we use and the outcomes we achieve. However, we spend the bulk of our time with you and your colleague(s), guiding you through a process designed to help you reach an understanding of each other’s needs. For this reason, we also regard you and your colleague(s) as our clients.

This means that we are serving multiple clients with each mediation: your manager or HR, you, and the colleague(s) with whom you find yourself in dispute. We cannot achieve a positive outcome for one client unless we achieve a positive outcome for you all. It’s as simple as that.

How will you know if we are ready for mediation?

Before mediation we conduct confidential one-on-one interviews with all those involved in the conflict. We may also interview your manager, and your HR officer. The purpose of these interviews is to assess whether or not the case can be mediated.

When making this judgement, we ask ourselves whether or not you and your colleague(s) are:

  • willing to enter into mediation in good faith
  • able to propose possible solutions to the conflict, and then put them into effect in the workplace
  • able to look at your own behaviours objectively
  • willing to resolve the conflict and move on.

If we believe that you are fundamentally ready for mediation, but we have some reservations in relation to one or more of the dot points listed above, we will raise our concerns with you during pre-mediation, or at the start of the mediation session.

What happens if we are not ready for mediation?

If we believe that you are not ready for mediation, we will advise your HR manager, or the person who has engaged us. We will explore a range of other options with them. It will then be up to your managers to decide on the best course of action to take. During this conversation we will not disclose any confidential information that you have raised during your interview with us.

How long does mediation take?

Mediation takes as long as is necessary. Before commencing a mediation session, we interview all the people directly involved in the conflict. We generally allow sixty to ninety minutes for each of these interviews, although we will be guided by your HR department.

During these interviews, some people find that strong emotions arise. For this reason, we suggest that the actual mediation session be held on a subsequent date, to allow people time to process their feelings.

The length of the mediation session depends on the complexity of the conflict, and the willingness of all parties to seek a resolution. As a rough rule of thumb, these sessions run for between two and four hours—although they can run longer if required.

What if I still feel stressed during a mediation session?

It is important to take time out if you are feeling stressed. We understand that even the thought of attending mediation can trigger anxiety for some people. This is why we have incorporated the concept of time-outs into our mediation process. A time-out is a short break of ten to fifteen minutes that you, your colleague or the mediator can call at any time. You can use it to compose yourself and regather your thoughts, or to speak in private with your mediator about your concerns.

Your mediator will discuss the use of time-outs with you during your pre-mediation interview. During mediation, your mediator will be monitoring your emotional state. If you appear stressed, your mediator will encourage you to take a break. Alternatively, let your mediator know if you are feeling stressed. It is wiser to take a short break than to shut down the entire mediation process.

We understand that sometimes the temptation to walk away from a mediation session can feel overwhelming. However, we would always encourage you to persevere with mediation. Avoiding a conflict does not solve it; usually, it only makes matters worse. If you become too highly stressed to continue, speak with your mediator. It may be possible to defer the mediation session to a later date.

Will I have to forgive the other person?

When we experience conflict at work we often are left feeling hurt and angry. When this anger grows roots, it turns into resentment. Resentment fills us with a desire to punish the other person. But punishing another person, however subtly we might do it, does not solve the problem or alleviate the personal pain we feel.

The word “forgive” means to “allow” or to “give up”. It is helpful to allow the past to be in the past and give up any desire to punish the other person. Mediation looks to the future. Our aim is to promote understanding and support reconciliation.

When we give up any hope for a different past, we move forward. With some willingness to let go and make peace with the past, the reconciliation process will continue after the mediation has ended.

Will I have to like the other person?

We won’t always like everyone we work with and they won’t always like us.  Indeed, the need to be liked can be an emotional ball-and-chain.

Liking the other person is not a necessary condition for mediation to succeed. Only a willingness to express yourself honestly, and for you to listen in turn.

What if I still feel stressed after a mediation session?

Participating in a mediation process can be emotionally tiring. If the mediation session finishes before the close of business, you may prefer to take the rest of the day off. We have found that managers and HR staff are generally understanding, and will do their best to make the entire process as painless as possible for you.

What happens after mediation?

If you and your colleague(s) have been able to come to an agreement, your mediator will draft a confidential Memorandum of Understanding, then forward it to you and your colleague(s). If you would like changes made to the Memorandum, your mediator will revise the Memorandum. Once everyone is satisfied that the Memorandum accurately reflects the agreements reached during mediation, your mediator will send you a copy for you to sign and keep for your records. Everyone directly involved in the mediation will sign the Memorandum, including the mediator.

Your mediator may also prepare a confidential report for HR, explaining the process that was used and the outcomes achieved. This report may also make recommendations, (for example, additional training or support may be useful for you or your colleague). This report will not disclose any personal or private information that surfaced during the mediation, unless you give your explicit approval.

Your mediator may recommend a follow-up session six to eight weeks later. The purpose of this session is to check that everything is on track, and that you and your colleague(s) are working together effectively.

In the rare event that the mediation is not successful, your mediator will prepare a report for HR suggesting some alternative strategies for dealing with the conflict.

What happens to this record when this process has been completed?

After mediation, your mediator will forward a confidential report to your HR area. It will be up to your HR professionals to decide how long they retain that report. You and your colleague(s) will receive a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding after the mediation session. Again, this is a confidential document. You decide how long you will keep it.

Will participating in mediation affect my future employment? Might it make things worse, rather than better?

The way we handle conflict reveals our true character. If you take a positive approach to mediation, your colleagues and managers will notice. If you take a negative approach, they will also notice. Our clients engage us because they value productive, harmonious workplaces. If you and your colleague are able to put the conflict behind you and work together effectively in the future, there should be no long-term repercussions.

At the same time, we acknowledge that some organisations do not always act in accordance with their stated values. You have a deeper appreciation of the prevailing attitudes within your organisation than we do. If you believe that you may be persecuted because you have participated in mediation, it’s probably time to seek work elsewhere. But before you take that step, why not try mediation? If it works, you will have saved yourself the trouble of seeking a new employer. And if you do experience long-term repercussions, you’ll be ready to move on. Through the mediation process, you will have learned more about yourself, and your ability to handle conflict.

As mediation is a confidential process, you would not be required to reveal your participation in mediation to a potential future employer. Should the question of conflict arise at interview, or as a result of referee checks, focus on the positive outcomes of the process: what you learned, and how you changed as a result.

Who have been some of your previous clients?

While we cannot divulge the specific names of our client organisations, we have worked with state and federal government departments, not-for-profit organisations, and hospitals. We have also conducted mediations in the tertiary education, finance and community sectors.

What does it cost?

You can find a complete explanation of our fee structure here.