Mediation Case Studies

Case Study 1

Professor A has a particular interest in a piece of research being undertaken and is keen to learn more about it and to include this work in his teaching to students. He has visited the Professor leading the research at another University, has spoken to his colleagues at his own University and is starting to plan how he will incorporate the research into his teaching. One of his colleagues (Professor B) who also teaches on the same subject and shares a number of the same students disagrees with the way her colleague intends to use the research in his teaching. Instead of discussing her views with her colleague, she discusses her concern with other colleagues which has the effect that her colleagues doubt the validity of the use of the research in the teaching of students and whether it should be used at this stage. Professor B also makes it known to her students that the research is not complete which has the effect of undermining Professor A. When Professor A finds out about this, he approaches Professor B who denies that this is her intention to undermine him yet she continues to belittle the use of the research by Professor A. Professor A finds he cannot resolve the issue with Professor B informally, even though that is his preferred option. Professor A decides to consider mediation as a means of resolving the conflict with his colleague.

Professor B agrees to the mediation process.Both parties met separately with the mediator as the first point of contact which they found helpful to express their own view of the situation. During the joint mediation meeting both colleagues were able to openly express their views and position, through the assistance of a trained mediator. Professor A learnt that Professor B felt that Professor A was given preferential treatment in making external visits and given more opportunities than she was to develop herself and to enhance her reputation. Professor B discovered that her colleague found her difficult to discuss matters with as he felt she always reacted negatively to his views. She also found that Professor A did not like sharing his students with a colleague.

An outcome of the mediation process was that both colleagues had aired their feelings and agreed to some actions which meant they would discuss issues in the future and would be more open with each other. They also agreed that they would formally review the position with each other in 3 months time.

Case Study 2

A team of six administrators worked in the Accounts Department. It was essential that they all worked as a team as their case work depended on the cooperation of each member of the team and by all team members being up to date at all times on developments in the company and changes in policies. One member of the team, C, had joined the team about six months ago. The rest of the team members had worked together for 3-4 years. The team leader had also previously been a member of the team and had been promoted to team leader about 9 months ago. She had been involved in the recruitment of C but had been surprised at how quickly C was becoming acquainted with the work and how the rest of the team looked to her for assistance. C started to discover that the team leader was excluding her from updates and information which she then had to rely on her colleagues to update her. There were also a couple of occasions when C was informed by colleagues outside of the Department that her information was not up to date. In addition to this C found that the team leader was excluding her from treats she bought for the team and from social discussions. C found she was dreading coming to work and felt she would have to discuss this with the team leader. She found it difficult to raise the issue directly with her and decided to find out about the mediation process.

The team leader reluctantly agreed to mediation as she initially denied that there was a problem. During mediation both individuals were encouraged to communicate on the identified issues to promote mutual understanding and to refocus on the future instead of dwelling on the current problems. It transpired that the team leader felt threatened by C as she seemed to be popular amongst customers and colleagues alike. She felt that C would be a threat in the future to her role and therefore felt that by her actions C would not develop outside of her role. C shared that she was not interested in being a team leader but wanted to be good at her job. Both parties were able to reach an outcome that was agreeable to both of them.The team leader also felt that she would benefit from attending some managerial training as she had not had the opportunity to do this. Both agreed to review their relationship on an ongoing basis.

Case Study 3

X and Y worked in a University laboratory. X was fastidious about cleaning all the equipment she had used during the day and keeping her work station clean and tidy, storing away all equipment at the end of the day. She worked with Y who was not as conscientious as X in taking responsibility for the cleaning and storing of equipment he had used during the working day. Y would leave equipment unwashed at the end of the day expressing the reason for this as he had to leave on time to collect his children. This situation caused X a lot of anxiety and she tried to talk to Y about this informally. Although Y accepted that he should be cleaning the equipment, he continued not to do so. X informed Y that if he did not improve then she would have no alternative than to report this to their manager as she felt it was making the workplace unsafe and cluttered. Y was concerned about this but did not improve and felt that X was making an undue fuss about the equipment. X suggested that they engage in mediation to try to resolve their difference of opinion and approach. Y did not understand what mediation was and was directed to the HR website to read the mediation documents and the publicity leaflets. Y was encouraged that the process was confidential and that he would be given the opportunity to express his point of view. Y decided to agree to participate in the mediation process and this occurred. The mediation process allowed both X and Y to express their positions on the cleaning of the equipment. Y understood he should be cleaning and storing away the equipment after use but had got into the habit of not allowing time to do this and it was a job he disliked. he agreed to ensure that he built in time to clean the equipment immediately after use and that X would remind him if she felt this was not being undertaken. Both parties agreed these steps as a way forward however X said that if Y did not improve after the mediation process then she would have no alternative to either speak to their manager or to pursue the formal grievance procedure due to the stress it was causing her and the lack of following laboratory procedure.