We were recently speaking with our friend and fellow mediator, Josh Hoch of Mediation Works Incorporated (MWI) about his activities regarding mediation in the workplace. We have not engaged in this important activity ourselves, but we find it to be a practice that merits some reflection visa vis our largely family law mediation and arbitration practice.
In divorce mediation, our role is to facilitate negotiations between two legal equals. Certainly no two spouses are identical in intellect, knowledge, emotionality or personality, but they nonetheless enjoy equal status under the law. Not so necessarily in workplace mediation. Work with peers in conflict may be analogous, since their places in the corporate family are more or less equal. But, what of mediation between those in a supervisory relationship with one another?
These protagonists are human equals, but not organizational peers at all. So, how does a mediator facilitate negotiations between people or are expressly unequal? Does the mediator try to level the playing the field between the two so as to create a moment of peerage; or does he or she leave inherent inequality unaltered and intact and simply play the role of critical listener, summarizer, re-framer and brainstorming collaborator?
We will follow up in a later entry.