Workplace and Employment
An employee got a bad performance review and countered with a claim of bullying.
An employee got a bad annual review and blamed it on their manager’s behaviour. They lodged a claim for bullying. At the mediation both told their version of events and both agreed that they needed to put the disagreement behind them and agree a modus operandi to enable them to work together.
The HR director of the company called me and asked me to mediate a dispute between the two employees who had agreed to mediate the dispute rather than having it investigated through the formal investigation process contained in the Dignity at Work policy. I had mediated employment issues for the company before.
I met both parties separately for pre- mediation meetings. These were confidential meetings at which I listened to what each party had to say, explained the mediation process and went through the draft Agreement to Mediate.
I met both parties one week later for the mediation. Neither party wanted to have anyone else with them at the mediation.
John was an employee who had issues with punctuality and this was leading to poor performance. Mary was John’s manager and was very irritated with John’s timekeeping. On the morning of the day Mary was to conduct the annual performance review John came in late yet again Mary, in front of the other employees , said “good afternoon John – nice of you to join us”. The performance review was held later that morning and Mary marked John down on a number of items including timekeeping. John then lodged a claim for bullying against Mary citing the public comment about his lateness.
I asked both parties if they had ever had a discussion about John’s punctuality issues and they both said it had never been discussed. I teased out with John the reasons for his habitual lateness and asked him to be prepared to talk through it at the mediation.
At the mediation both parties told their stories and John was asked to explain why sometimes he was late. The reason was due to the school run – the school only took pupils from 8.15 and depending on the traffic he might make it to work by 8.55 or more often by 9.05 or 9.10. It wasn’t possible for his partner to do the run so he had no choice.
In the mediation the parties explored the possibility of John officially starting later, of shortening his lunch hour or lengthening his hours at the end of the day. – it was agreed that he would start at 9.15 and shorten his lunch break by 15 minutes. Mary agreed that if she had an issue with John in the future she would raise it with him privately and not wait for the annual performance review. If John had an issue he would raise it privately with Mary. It was agreed that the matter was at an end and that HR could be told that they could close the file.
The benefit of the mediation was that the parties could tell each other, in a safe space, what the issues really were and devise the solutions to the problems together. The mediation helped them to focus on their future working relationship and resolve the claim quickly before it gathered legs. From the company point of view it meant it had dealt with a formal complaint very quickly and the parties could get back to productive work.