When you are involved in a disagreement with a colleague, your manager, or member of your staff, the situation can remain unresolved over a long period of time or possibly escalate. This can make the atmosphere uncomfortable and interfere with the ability to do your best work. A conflict can also spread and affect others. Long standing conflicts may result in each individual feeling stuck and unsure of how to find a resolution. Mediation is an option available to address a disagreement with another under the guidance of a trained mediator. Both parties must agree to engage in this approach.
UNH Human Resources Partners and leaders have been trained in the transformative mediation technique, which is a specific mediation approach offered as an unofficial method to resolve conflicts between UNH employees.
This approach is not part of the UNH FAIR Complaint and Grievance, Affirmative Action or disciplinary processes.
Transformative mediation is based on two values supported during the session(s):
- Empowerment for each party whenever possible, and
- Recognition by each party of the other party’s needs, interests, values and points of view.
Possible outcomes: Transformative mediation has the potential for any or all issues between the parties or their relationship to be transformed. The effectiveness of transformative mediation is based on evidence that resolutions generated by the parties are more deep, lasting, and valuable than outcomes directed by another person.
The role of the Mediator: Transformative mediators support the parties in sharing their concerns and finding their own resolution to the conflict through input into the structure of the mediation process and the mediation outcomes. The mediator follows their lead and facilitates the setting for the process. Both parties have the option to voice concerns, seek to understand the other parties’ perspective, learn new information, suggest resolutions, reach agreements, decide upon details of agreement(s) or to continue to disagree. Not all mediation sessions end in agreements. Both parties usually meet together with the mediator in one or multiple sessions.
Mediation is a private method of problem-solving, and confidentiality about the session is expected of both parties. UNH mediators will also keep the process and information private, unless there is a revelation indicating a UNH policy or state or federal law has been violated, or if a participant threatens self-harm or harm to others. All notes from the session(s) are destroyed and not kept as a part of anyone’s employment file.
Folger and Bush developed the process of transformative mediation and outlined the techniques in their book: The Promise of Mediation, in 1994.
Steps in the process:
- Contact your HR partner to request mediation. An HR staff member will be assigned.
- Your assigned mediator will schedule an informational meeting where you can learn more about the process, and describe your perceptions of the issue to the mediator. The mediator will also meet separately with the other party. Both parties must agree to mediation.
- A mediation session will be scheduled, usually lasting 1-3 hours.
- Any agreements reached during the session will be captured in writing by the mediator for each party to acknowledge.