Most businesses think of mediation as an adjunct to their legal services – and it certainly can be. Mediation can quickly and confidentially resolve pending litigation from claims of harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination, etc. In this capacity I myself have negotiated agreements that saved businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawsuits and attorney’s fees. And while this area of mediation is valuable and important, it is just the tip of the mediation iceberg.
Mediation can also prevent the expensive lawsuit. When used as a routine part of a company’s strategy for handling issues between partners, executives, and general employees, problems are addressed in the early stages, when they can still be peaceably resolved. Likewise, this forum of mediation helps businesses retain their best workers, improve teamwork and morale, and increase productivity. And, if an issue is not resolved, evidence of attempting mediation all but eliminates the threat of a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Businesses are often surprised by the speed of the result. Why does it work so well when in-house remedies and efforts do not? In part, the answer is in the question. Mediation makes use of an outside and impartial person. Further, the process is confidential. Together these build a high degree of trust in both the process and the helper, and with trust comes honesty – the key to working out any issue. Likewise, a business that addresses issues in this manner demonstrates to those involved that their concerns have value. When people feel heard, they are more willing to resolve their issues. Putting it together, when people are honest and willing to resolve their issues, a lot gets done quickly.