How do you compare using a professional external mediator rather than an internal manager to mediate workplace disputes?
Have you used either or both and how do you think they compare?
Are you worried about conflicts of interest and power imbalances when using an internal person?
Dose the cost outweigh the benefit of using an external professional?
Have you never thought of it?
While you did not expound on the particular types of the workplace disputes, the vast majority of workplace disputes arise due to conflicts dealing with styles or types of personalities and how that affects another’s personal work ethics or ability to get a particular job accomplished. Using an internal mediator has its merits as that person most likely is well versed in company policies and understands what the real reason the dispute has come to light. First and foremost, the company has its own best interests to look after. Squabbles between employees cost the company production dollars at any level and the internal mediator should be well aware of that end goal when mediating the dispute. Using an outside mediator also has merits from the point of neutrality but they generally are not familiar with internal rules, regulations and formats of the company they have been called in to mediate for. Over the years, I have used both internal and external mediators and in my opinion, the issues were resolved faster and with better conclusion by using an internal mediator. The internal mediator also has the opportunity to document and do follow up reviews that help to prevent that particular type of dispute in the future by initiating new or changing existing polices.
What a great question. I have used both and there are pros and cons of both.
Using an external personal can provide the impartial view that you are looking for however most people do not feel comfortable speaking up in front of someone from outside. Using an internal manger can mean that past unresolved issues favouritism and fishbowl view can come to the fore.
What I prefer is both sides trained in mediation so that the workplace feels that they can air any concerns and be heard. If you use the existing manager maybe a trained mediator could be there just to make sure things don't go pear shaped.
Justice must not only be done, it must also APPEAR to be done. Appearance, and by extension, perception is reality. An external mediator has no ties that bind, no ax to grind, no hidden agenda. The outcome, even if unfavorable to one party, will be accepted as unbiased.
Without much more insight to the particulars. I can only offer advice based upon myoown experience. That said. I would day that if you feel your internal mediator is objective and has the organizations mission and best interests held above politics and personal agenda, use your internal person. However, my experience has shown that adding a subsequent consultation is a wise move. Combining and comparing tsuggestions and insights will reveal a better long resolution. This not a middle road.approach but rather a comptrhensive choice bound to either dispute or confirm your internal decision. Any worthy internal mediator would welcome this approach rather than be threatened by this..)
(I obviously should not attempt to use my cell to type a detailed reply)lol
Really it depends on the circumstances, but in a Union dispute getting the dispute off the floor and out of management has many advantages. Going higher up inside the union and getting into external arbitration will ensure that any agreement is binding on both sides. It can be cheaper that consuming management time. Management simply bringing in an external will not have sufficient credibility with the workforce and is of little benefit unless the people in dispute are consulted on the decision of who to appoint.
If the issue is large and has been going on for a while, then an external mediator is necessary if one really wants to solve the problem. If the issue has just come up and there is an internal mediator that will not be biased one way or another, then it may work to have an internal mediator. Both parties need to feel the internal mediator is neutral.
Using an external mediator has the advantage of bringing a nonbiased third party in to the situation. Not all managers have the skill or the ability to remain nonjudgmental, especially where the manager is familiar with one or all parties involved. Depending on the severity of the situation, costs should not be the main focus when deciding to use an extrrnal mediator. I have done mediation in the past, and would contract an outside mediator if needed.
I may be stating the obvious. Internal managers are not as likely to be seen as credibly neutral, as compared to an external mediator. Using a manager increases risk of power struggles, buy in, sabotaging, etc.
The external mediator or coach will more likely be seen as credibly neutral and even having potential expertise in dealing with interpersonal conflict. Confidence in the process should be seen as a critical issue, and confidence ought to be improved by bringing in a neutral 3rd party, who can potentially fall back on the utilization of psychological assessments, as yet a further way of neutralizing conflict, and bringing peaceful resolution to workplace disputes.
In the most difficult of situations, your external 3rd party can even offer one-to-one on-going support, such as Executive Coaching. In this process, the on-going support effort aims at ensuring the conflict does not re-emerge.
I believe depending on the situation that a external mediator truly provides the sense that the mediator is a neutral 3rd party. In my experience the department of human resources would usually be in the role as a internal mediator. Human resources is the one department in most organizations that are pro-organization and bias in that. I think mediation is also usually the final step before litigation, so as a matter of cost a mediator is always cheaper than a lawyer.
It is far more effective to use an external mediator.
They come in with no preconceived opinions; therefore more open overall with advanced listening and problem solving skills.
An inside manager may not be a good choice b/c of possibly having strong opinions and perhaps even favoritism.
Better to go outside and avoid any/all pitfalls.
Make sure you check references, licensing and testimonials.
The managers job is to mediate disputes so in most situation they should handle it. If in the rare cases it is extremely large and complex or the managers are an integral part in the dispute, than an external one would be beneficial. The cost is substantial for external mediator but if it means you get everything handled and back to work than the cost is covered by the return of sales. A happy workplace is a productive workplace.