Facilitation and Mediation promotes listening and understanding. It encourages a mutual solution focus, and Mediation, in particular, repairs and rebuilds collaboration, communication and trust and will deliver better outcomes.
Below I have substantially used the term Mediation, because as well as being a facilitator I am qualified Mediation practitioner and although the skills and approaches and benefits are similar, Mediation is less well understood or used, possibly because it is seen as a sign of failure rather than a methodology for success.
Throughout, think about how these approaches can be used to set-up teams and support the thorough for forming, storming, norming and performing processes of establishing roles, goals and controls, plus rules, rituals and recognition.
A facilitator is a person who helps a group of people to work together better, understand their common objectives, and plan how to achieve these objectives, during meetings or discussions. In doing so, the facilitator remains “neutral”, meaning they do not take a particular position in the discussion
Business Mediation is an effective method for conflict resolution. It is successful between around 80% of the time. Parties discuss their disputes facilitated by an impartial third person(s) who supports them reaching a mutually agreed outcome.
It can be better than alternatives including court litigation, arbitration or ombudsman decision because is inherently less adversarial, less expensive, and less stressful and confidential allowing for a flexible process which may help to preserve relationships.
People are far more likely to stick to an agreement reached in mediation because people place a high value and greater ownership in outcomes they shared in creating
We can see here useful tips for teams, not least the Ikea Effect that people will be more committed to roles, goals and controls, plus rules, rituals and recognition if they have been participant in their creating.
WHY IS MEDIATION WORTHWHILE?
The problem with arguing is that it seldom resolves the problem and legal action may win a battle, but ultimately distract, disrupt and damage the relationships, undermining any future work together.
Any loss of confidence and trust is likely to be damaging to people and the delivery of projects, products and performance.
Mediation promotes listening and understanding. It encourages a mutual solution focus, and therefore repairs and rebuilds collaboration, communication and trust. Success in Mediation will often improve relationships, support agreement and deliver better results.
A COMMERCIAL PROJECT CASE STUDY
A client is unable to clearly define and document their requirements but expects that the supplier will provide a standard product that satisfies all their needs. The supplier provides services for many clients and markets and they all vary depending on country, currency, customers. They expect the client to be able to decide quickly and clearly the exact specification and configuration they require.
As time progresses costs escalate and discussion continues and frustration builds because time, money, and effort is being consumed but outputs and outcomes are behind schedule, ahead of costs and short of expectations.
The client sees their project, product or performance at risk and the supplier sees their profit margin erode and resources tied-up far longer than expected compromising other customers and contracts.
Both parties experience considerable stress upon their people and compromise to plans and operations.
SO WHAT CAN A MEDIATOR DO TO HELP?
There are four primary styles that are used by mediators today
1. Facilitative (does not give advice),
2. Evaluative (making recommendations or providing opinions),
3. Transformative (seeks to empower each of the parties in order to transform the relationship)
4. Narrative (to merge their experience into a new shared story with a better outcome)
An approach to a mediation between two commercial business over a dispute on the supply of services and the cost of work.
Note all cases are as different as the people involved in them and this is not a prescription per-se but instead an indicative structure. In reality any mediator will take time to understand the parties, the issues and the context and design an approach that takes account of these essential elements.
Below are the steps that might be taken.
Step 1 – Each partly writes down for themselves, privately  how the see the situation  how it has affected them  how it has affected the other party  what they want to achieve or do differently following the mediation
Step 2 – Each partly meets and gets 5 – 10 minutes uninterrupted to state their views human to human in a room (or if necessary Zoom call). If necessary use mediator/moderator to manage the time and content to keep things on-track (but allowing room for people to express their feelings)
Step 3 – Each partly then gets enough time to propose “new ways of working” and what action to take if we feel we are at risk of slipping back to old ways. A mediator/advisor can record all the positive suggestions for later review (at Step 4)
Step 4 – Privately each partly now reviewed their Step 1 assessment based on the discussion at Step 2 & 3, if necessary in private consultation with a mediator/advisor
Step 5 – A settlement is sought, either between the two parties face-to-face, or using an middle person as an intermediary (Note1)
Step 6 – A short note, charter, contract or agreement is drafted to “close” the matter, agree the positive future focus and move forward.
Note1: The middle person never recommend a figure but simply says higher or lower to each party until they are within a “comfort zone” Example Person-A settlement range may be £50k to £100k whereas Person-B settlement range may be £25k to £70k. The “comfort zone” is £50k to £70 and anywhere in this range would be acceptable. Note it may not be all about money. There are lots of offers or concessions that can be made instead of cash.
HOW DOES THIS WORK?
The process can go as quickly as the parties wish because they are the people who decide what needs to be discussed, decided and documented on the way to agreement. There is no waiting for court dates or other delay, disruption or distraction.
Key factors for success
1. Select the right Neutral.
2. Preparation, preparation, preparation.
3. Identify all “big picture” issues and contemplate impasse points.
4. Set expectations for the parties prior to mediation.
5. Do not underestimate emotions.
6. Be prepared to draft a Settlement Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding before the mediation concludes.
7. Advise the parties that a full mediation may advance negotiations but could require ongoing conversation to complete the settlement.
Success comes from managing the feeling and the thinking environment.
• There are five domains to consider for Feeling Environment: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, And Fairness. Certainty concerns being able to predict the future. Autonomy provides a sense of control over events. Relatedness is a sense of safety with others.
• The ten behaviours that generate Thinking Environment are: Attention, Equality, Ease, Appreciation, Encouragement, Feelings, Information, Diversity, Incisive Questions, Place.
In the event of an unsuccessful mediation, the parties can still go to court or arbitration. However, in this event, they do so being better prepared, having focused upon the real issues in dispute between them.
We can see here useful tips for teams: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, And Fairness is really important for people to want to participant and engage. The ten behaviours that generate Thinking Environment are critical to the quality, output and outcome of the group.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
An experienced Management Consultant and Project Manager, used to working with people and teams in complex legal, regulatory, and technical environments.
• Management Consultant MBA
• PostGrad International Compliance Association
• PostGrad EC Competition Law
• APMG Change Practitioner
• PRINCE2 Project Manager
• Data Protection Officer (GDPR Practitioner)
• International Coaching Federation ICF Trained Coach
• IoD UK Business Mentor
• Chartered Management Institute Tutor for Level3,5&7
• Experienced team and change facilitator
I have more than 30 years’ experience delivering projects, programme and change and have gathered many tools, templates and tips for every type and scale of project. I love drinking coffee and exchanging ideas, so if you need anything please feel free to message me.
Follow me on a journey exploring new ideas and opportunities @timhjrogers #timhjrogers
Tim HJ Rogers
MBA Management Consultant + Change Practitioner
ICF Trained Coach, IoD Business Mentor, Mediator
PRINCE2 Agile-Scrum Projects, Programmes and PMO
Mob 447797762051 Tim@AdaptConsultingCompany.com
FOLLOW *ADAPT CONSULTING COMPANY* https://www.linkedin.com/company/adapt-consulting-company
We offer #consulting, #coaching, #mentoring, #facilitation and #mediating to support individuals, teams and organisations through #change. We understand #data, #technology and #process and support #people to drive #performance and #progress for #purpose, #profit and #planet.