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Coaching In Workplace Mediation
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Coaching others to use Managerial Mediation* and Self Mediation* is a relatively simple and intuitive four-step process.

This article uses the capitalized word "Coach" to denote a Certified Coach of Workplace Mediation who has attended a Certification Conference of the Mediation Training Institute International and has met other criteria for earning this credential. The term "workplace mediation" refers to the self-help tools Managerial Mediation and Self Mediation, which are described in detail at http://www.mediationworks.com/mti/seminars.htm Terms and phrases followed by an asterisk (*) have specific and particular definitions and significance in the workplace mediation source materials listed at http://www.mediationworks.com/mti/certconf/receive.htm

Effective Coaches are skilled in the process of coaching AND they are skilled in workplace mediation. "Coachees" are people who are assisted by Coaches in applying workplace mediation to conflict situations that they encounter in their organizational roles as managers, support staff, or non-supervisory employees. Generally, coachees have not participated in the Manager-as-Mediator Seminar or the Self-as-Mediator Seminar. However, coaching is also beneficial for persons who have attended the training but who may need help in putting their new skills into practice.

Coaches typically function in either of two roles. 1. An Internal Coach is an employee of an organization whose duties either formally or informally include counseling and advising others in performing job functions.
2. An External Coach is a consultant whose services are requested by someone with the authority to do so within a client organization. In either role, the Coach´s services are legitimized by the organization and/or the individual who requests coaching. Legitimate coaching occurs when both the Coach and the coachee understand the nature of the services to be rendered, concur upon its goals, and mutually agree to engage in a coaching relationship.

The primary sourcebook for Coaches is "Conflict Resolution" (McGraw-Hill, 2001) by Dan Dana, which summarizes Managerial Mediation and Self Mediation and illustrates examples of situations typical of those often found in today´s organizations. The secondary sourcebook is "Managing Differences" (MTI Publications, 1998, second edition), also by Dan Dana, which gives greater detail of Self Mediation, and also provides behavioral science support for this approach to resolving workplace conflict. View these resources at http://www.mediationworks.com/mti/public.htm

Coaching is performed as a four-phase "APIE" formula: 1. Assess: Understand the conflict situation
2. Plan: Prepare to use a mediation tool to resolve the conflict
3. Implement: Carry out the plan
4. Evaluate: Identify outcomes and follow-up

A similar formula, also called APIE, is used by health care providers:
Assess, Plan, Intervene, Evaluate.

Phase 1: Assess
First, the Coach and the coachee examine the workplace conflict situation and consider several factors affecting how it may be resolved. Some questions that may be discussed are: 1. How has the coaching process been legitimized?
2. Who are the parties?
3. What are the parties´ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses?
4. Can the parties be trusted to avoid violations of the Cardinal Rules* of workplace mediation? If not, how may these requirements be assured?
5. What is the business problem* caused by the conflict?
6. What is the issue* in dispute by the parties?
7. How can the issue be stated to ensure that it is unbiased, objective, specific, resolvable, and concise (the criteria* for a clear issue statement)?
8. The structure* of the conflict:
- Degree of interdependency between the parties
- The number of parties
- Whether the parties represent constituencies
- Degree of representative authority
- Degree of critical urgency
- What communication channels are available for dialogue
9. What is the coachee´s level of knowledge and skill regarding conflict management?
10. What are the coachee´s attitudes and values about conflict?
11. What are the coachee´s past experiences with conflict, both positive and negative, that may impact the success of the intervention?
12. What is the coachee´s behavioral style regarding conflict, if known (re MBTI, Thomas-Kilmann, or other assessments of style)?
13. What are the parties´ behavioral styles regarding conflict, if known?
14. What is the culture of the coachee´s organization with regard to prevailing attitudes, values, and behavior associated with conflict?
15. What are the organization´s HR/ER practices and procedures regarding dispute resolution, such as its grievance system?
16. Are management/labor or unionization issues related to the conflict situation?
17. Does the coachee understand that workplace mediation is a "business meeting to solve a business problem"*, and is neither a professional nor personal service to the parties?
18. Is adequate time* available to undertake a resolution dialogue?
19. What potential complications might arise?
20. Are substance addiction or mental health issues involved?
21. What are desired and realistic outcomes?

The amount of time needed to complete this phase depends upon several factors, including rapport between Coach and coachee, assessment of the structure of the conflict, and available resources. Enough time must be allotted to achieve mutual satisfaction that the conflict situation is adequately understood.

This discussion between Coach and coachee should produce a clear understanding of whether Managerial Mediation and/or Self Mediation may be applied to this particular conflict in this particular workplace.

Phase 2: Plan
The Coach helps the coachee prepare to perform the mediation tool that suits the situation. Planning may occur in the same conversation as the assessment.

Steps of Managerial Mediation*:
1. Decide to use Managerial Mediation. (This decision may have already been made during the preceding assessment.)
2. Hold a preliminary meeting with each party.
3. Plan the context for a three-way meeting.
4. Hold the three-way meeting. (This meeting usually concludes with an agreement and a plan for follow-up.)
5. Hold follow-up meeting(s).

Steps of Self Mediation*:
1. Find a time to talk with the other party.
2. Plan the context for a dialogue.
3. Talk it out
4. Make a deal

The Coach´s detailed knowledge of Managerial Mediation and Self Mediation ensures that the coachee produces a specific plan of action for resolving the conflict.

Phase 3: Implement
Coaching continues through the coachee´s implementation of the action plan. The Coach should be readily accessible for discussion with the coachee following each step of the selected workplace mediation tool to address any concerns about what has occurred so far and what to do next. The Coach may seize "teachable moments" during implementation to help the coachee to gain an understanding of the underlying dynamics of conflict resolution in accordance with the maxim, "Give people fish and they will eat today . . . teach people to fish and they will eat forever."

Phase 4: Evaluate
Once the coachee has completed implementing Managerial Mediation or Self Mediation, the opportunity arises for learning, growth, and professional development. The Coach may pose questions to the coachee such as:
1. How satisfied are you with the outcomes?
2. What do you think needs to be done next to maintain and ensure a positive outcome (if results were favorable)?
3. What do you think needs to be done next to improve outcomes (if results were not satisfactory)?
4. If you were to do this again, what would you do differently?
5. Name the specific action that you think you did most effectively.
6. Name the specific action that you think you did least effectively.
7. What insights have you gained about conflict and its resolution that you find valuable?

The Coach´s objectives are to maintain momentum, capture learnings, and ensure pursuit of positive outcomes.

Coaches reinforce successes. They point out accomplishments that may otherwise go unnoticed by gently supporting observed deficiencies. Using techniques like active listening and open-ended questions, the Coach can direct the conversation without creating undue defensiveness or discomfort in the coachee.

Occasionally, the Coach must help the coachee redefine the scope of the intervention. This may occur when success appears in jeopardy or new information has surfaced.

Coaching may continue until the coachee demonstrates competency and confidence, and is able to achieve reliably positive results in using workplace mediation tools. Or, the coachee may determine that comfortable closure has been reached and that coaching may be suspended until a future conflict arises that calls for the Coach´s assistance. With each new conflict situation, the Coach repeats the same four-phase APIE formula: Assess, Plan, Implement, Evaluate. Encouraging the coachee to continually re-apply this process is a key to long-term learning and to increased effectiveness and productivity of the coachee´s organization.

Article courtesy of Family Business Strategies.

About the authors: . Bruce Newman and Dan Dana can be reached via email or at http://www.mediationworks.com. Dan Dana, PhD., is the President and Director of Program Development for Mediation Training Institute International. He is also the author of the book Conflict Resolution (McGraw-Hill, 2001). W. Bruce Newman is Senior Consultant Vice President for Field Services of Mediation Training Institute.

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