Family and Workplace Mediations are typically conducted in accordance with the “facilitative model” of Mediation and can occur over a few hours to a full day. Sometimes several Mediations can be useful.
It is conducted at a venue that has enough room for each of the parties and the Mediator to meet in joint sessions and also individually.
Workplace mediation usual format is for the Mediator to meet with the parties’ manager/s and/or human resources manager for an initial briefing and discussion, including what sort of outcomes and continued support structures that the employer would be prepared to provide to the parties to assist them in staying on track with any positive resolutions that the parties ultimately agree with each other.
The Mediator then meets with each of the parties individually, to explain the process and then to listen to each participant explain what is going on for them, how they perceive the issues at hand, and what they would like to achieve from the mediation. These individual “intake” sessions with the Mediator usually take up to 1 hour each.
The first joint session of the Mediation then commences, beginning with a brief introduction by the Mediator to explain the process again and go over some house-keeping issues and ground rules, including:
- Confidentiality of discussions at the Mediation;
- Voluntary nature of Mediation;
- Respectful and effective communication.
As part of the joint session, the Mediator will then invite the parties to introduce themselves and explain briefly their key concerns and what they would like to achieve through the mediation. This is aimed at establishing the channel of communication between the parties.
Some basic agenda items will be agreed, to focus the discussions.
The Mediator will further invite the parties to communicate directly with each other, acting as a careful moderator so that the discussions are constructive and that there is:
- an Uncovering of Interests by Exchanging of information
- Discussion and Understanding of what is important to each participant; and
- A fulsome understanding of each other’s perceptions of the issue/conflict.
This first joint session usually takes 1 hour.
The parties then take a break, at which time the Mediator meets with each of them privately, to discuss how things are going. During these individual private sessions, (which usually take around 40 minutes each), the Mediator seeks to explore with each party on a confidential basis, what is negotiable, what further information the participant may or may not be prepared to exchange, and identifying and exploring possible solutions.
The Mediator works to help Overcome any potential deadlock, by reality testing the parties individually. A robust reality testing of the reasonableness of a party’s refusal to move from their position, examining what a worst case scenario outcome will mean for each of the parties as opposed to what they can each live with by settling, often leads to the emergence of a negotiated resolution of the issues in dispute during the second joint session which follows.
During the second joint session, the Mediator invites the parties to question and communicate further with each other by way of addition to or clarification of the issues discussed in the previous joint session. The parties are also encouraged to propose options to each other for the resolution of their issues.
A Mediation can go for as long as it takes for the parties to reach an agreement or to arrive at a deadlock and not be prepared to continue.
A series of joint and private sessions can be undertaken as part of the process, as necessary – whatever works best on the day.
Participation in the Mediation process in every way is voluntary through to the end of the Mediation.
At all times, the parties must participate in good faith and be genuine in their attempts to resolve the issues in dispute.
During Mediation, no participant will be bound by anything they agree to until a written settlement agreement is completed and signed by the parties.
If an agreement is reached, the Mediator may act as a “scribe”, to write out the agreement at the direction of the parties, which will ultimately be signed by each of them, provided to their managers / HR and kept on the parties’ respective personnel files.