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Chapter 10. Monkey in the Middle: Mediat... > Arbitration, or When Someone Just Ha... - Pg. 107

Monkey in the Middle: Mediation and Arbitration 107 Mediation Versus Arbitration Throughout this book, we have applied the principle that the least use of power and authority is desirable, not for moral reasons but for practical reasons. Managers don't want to play daddy or mommy. There is an expectation that employees will behave like adults, but sometimes they need help. Mediation supports that expectation because it treats the combatants like adults who can solve the problem between themselves (albeit with some help). Mediation is meant to empower the people involved. There are situations, however, that cannot be solved through a mediation process. In mediation, the solution isn't in your hands and if the combatants are unable to come up with a solution and the problem is serious enough, then the solution has to come from somewhere. That's where the arbitration process fits. If you have the ability to use mediation effectively, that's a good long-term strategy. If you lack the time or ability, and the problem must be solved, an arbitration process is probably a usable alternative. However, arbitration or making a decision for people can create hard feelings and other problems down the road. The Least You Need to Know · It's in your interest to intervene as a third party when there is a conflict between staff. · Before intervening, assess the cost of doing nothing. · Mediation involves helping the combatants find their own solution, not you providing one. · Mediation is difficult and requires discipline, skill, and patience. If you lack any of these, get someone from outside to do it instead. · When you need a resolution fast, or when mediation fails, you can impose a solution via an agreed-to arbitration process. However, that can have negative long-term effects.