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Reader’s Review, June-July 2012

By John D. Baker

The Essential Guide to Workplace Mediation & Conflict Resolution:
Rebuilding Working Relationships

By Nora Doherty & Marcelas Guyler
196pp. London, U.K.: Kogan Page, 2008, 2009, 2010
Paperback (USA) $39.95

Nora Doherty is the head of Professional Mediation Resolutions in the United Kingdom, specializing in the practice of workplace mediation and the training of workplace mediators. Her co-author, Marcelas Guyler, is also a business trainer, consultant and workplace mediator. Mr. Guyler is the Managing Director of The Hunter Business Ltd., a provider of Employee Assistance Programs in the United Kingdom. It is clear that both authors are experts in their field.

The need for conflict resolution in the workplace is obvious to anyone who has worked in any organization. Equally obvious is the need for more of it.

Sadly, the bully or their clone who roamed the schoolyard in earlier years sometimes reappears in the board room, the fiefdom of the departmental manager or the warehouse dock in later years. Wise organizational management requires that a system is available to employees who experience intra-organizational conflict situations. Without such a system, employees will invent their own means of handling such matters which may be far less useful than responsible and responsive management could achieve as a partner.

Potential repercussions for real or imagined abuse are powerful forces that sap ideas, dampen employee contributions and threaten organizational creativity, productivity, and teamwork. Organizational success literally depends on a positive work climate. Anything less is a defeat for the ability of the organization itself. It is also an invitation to governmental inquiry and investigation, litigation and a host of other actions and unforeseen consequences.

Workplace mediation is an intra-organizational process implemented by the organization and available to employees as a method of possible recourse for the resolution of conflicts. As such, it becomes a major member of the array of dispute resolution tools available to employees, workgroups and managers in the present era.

Together with negotiation, conciliation, facilitated dialogue, arbitration, litigation, mediation has the potential to be an essential part of the entity’s identity. Once established, in theory, no employee and no employer should ever stand alone helpless in the midst of a workplace storm.

Workplace mediation is no minor force. Surveys cited by the authors show participant satisfaction with mediation at a consistent rate of 70-90 percent client satisfaction with the process, surpassing attorney settlement satisfaction rates of 66 percent in the same periods. Importantly also, workplace mediation is comparatively less expensive, more rapid, and functions with minimal disruptive to organizational internal operations than most other dispute resolution methods.

Operating under a set of principles that are designed to be non-threatening and yet decisive, workplace mediation uses an impartial mediator to direct a process that is voluntary, solution focused, driven by the suggestions of the participants, confidential, and designed to produce written agreement. Supplementing this basic mediation formula, the authors also present an alternative six-step model of intra-organizational designed by the co-author, Nora Doherty. It is a helpful exploration of the potential and operation of workplace mediation.

Readers will discover that the mediation process is clearly outlined and bolstered by sample case studies, a lengthy bibliography and a generous index.

This is a practical book for the negotiator and yet brief enough to be instructive and useful for the organizational leader, the employee leader, and the mediator.


John D. Baker, Ph.D.

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The Negotiator Magazine June-July(Summer, 2012) Copyright © 2012 The Negotiator Magazine