Interpersonal conflict and communication problems can be tricky and complicated. But with the right approach to conflict resolution, dialogue can help prevent lasting damage to important relationships, increase collaboration in the workplace, and result in viable solutions.
Mediation is a semi-structured dialogue that is facilitated by a neutral third party called a mediator. A voluntary and confidential process, mediation encourages employees to collaborate by sharing perspectives, identifying issues, and a reaching a mutually agreeable solution.
Staff mediation services are available to all Case Western Reserve University staff members. If you are experiencing conflict and would like to request an initial mediation consult, please contact the HR Service Center at 216-368-6964.
Staff Mediation FAQs
What is mediation?
A confidential, semi-structured process in which participants, with the help of a mediator, collaborate in good faith to resolve work-related disputes by sharing perspectives, identifying issues, considering possible solutions, and reaching a mutually agreeable solution.
- a way to structure difficult conversations.
- a place for parties in conflict to reach a mutually agreeable compromise and/or solution.
Mediation is not:
- Arbitration: in arbitration, the parties in conflict agree to present their case to an impartial third party, or arbitrator, who makes a final, binding decision. In mediation, actions and agreements are reached by the parties in conflict with the mediator acting as a facilitator to the discussion.
- Therapy or counseling: the mediator is not a licensed therapist or counselor, but is instead simply facilitating the conversation between parties in conflict.
- A guarantee: it is possible participants might quit the mediation, make agreements they have no intention of following through on, or might not reach an agreement at all.
What is the mediation process?
A CWRU staff member who is experiencing conflict contacts the staff mediator, who will set up an initial mediation consultation to determine the nature of the conflict and if mediation is appropriate. If mediation is appropriate and desired, the staff mediator will reach out to the other parties in the conflict to determine their interest in participating. If both parties agree, the staff mediator will arrange a mediation meeting.
Who may utilize the staff mediation services?
Staff mediation services are available to all CWRU staff members. Faculty members should reach out to the Faculty Conciliation and Mediation Program.
What is the role of the mediator?
The mediator is a neutral third party who facilitates conversations between participants to help them hear and understand each other, identify underlying issues, and reach a mutually agreeable solution to those issues. The mediator does not take sides, offer solutions, investigate the situation, or impose a resolution.
How does mediation work?
A staff member who is experiencing conflict contacts the mediator and asks for a mediation consultation. The mediator will meet privately with the requesting party to determine the nature of the conflict and explore possible options for resolving it. If mediation is desired and appropriate, the mediator will contact the other party to determine their interest in mediation. If both parties agree to mediation, the mediator will explain the process, address any questions or concerns, and coordinate the meeting.
What topics are appropriate for mediation?
- Personal or professional disputes among staff members
- Issues of respect and coordination
- Communication, performance and/or management issues
What topics are not appropriate for mediation?
- Policy issues
- Current or pending legal actions
- Discrimination charges or lawsuits
- Administrative charges or lawsuits alleging harassment or retaliation on a protected basis
- When there is a threat of violence, to self or others
- Concerns relating to serious violations of rights or regulations
If you are unsure if your situation is appropriate for mediation, the mediator will be happy to discuss it with you by phone or in person.
What are some advantages of mediation?
- Mediation aims to give people a safe setting in which to engage in honest, respectful communication which helps resolve most misunderstandings.
- Mediation is interests-based and encourages participants to work together to best solve the problem being discussed. Since participants, not the mediator or anyone else, decide how to best solve the problem, they are more likely to follow the agreed upon solution.
- Even if no agreement is reached, participants usually leave having a clearer understanding of the issues and of each other.
I am a supervisor and want to require two of my employees to participate in mediation. Is that possible?
No. Mediation is a voluntary process and must be entered into willingly by all participants. You may make employees aware that this is a service available to them, but may not require them to participate in it.
Who will know about the mediation? What’s being reported and to whom?
Under Ohio law, the content of a mediation is confidential with some exceptions. Only the names of the individuals involved, meeting dates, and whether a resolution was reached will be disclosed to administrative departments with legitimate business needs. Additionally, a copy of the Mediation Agreement will be kept by the mediator for their records but will be kept confidential.
Is the grievance process still available?
Yes, the grievance process is still available if a staff employee believes that Human Resources policies and procedures are not being properly applied to their workplace situation or a specific violation of Human Resources policies has occurred.
Do I waive my rights to filing a grievance later if I elect mediation now?
No. Participants will be asked to suspend any grievance process when they begin mediation and have the option to restart it once mediation is complete. However, participants may not bring agreements reached in mediation to Employee Relations as a grievance. For example, if after the mediation is completed one party does not follow the mediation agreement, the other party may not use that as a basis for a grievance issue.