There are times when the ‘obvious’ solution to a people problem isn’t right and a different approach has to be taken first.

For example you may need to undertake a mediation exercise with two employees in order to help them improve their working relationship. However, having started this work it becomes apparent that one or both of the employees is not ready or prepared to take a positive and effective role in the process. Mediation cannot work unless both parties are prepared to let some things go from their past interaction and situation and to look forward to a more positive future. Ideally they should be able to draw a line under the past and to be open minded about the prospect of an improved relationship. They need to want to participate and to give the process a chance of success.

However, that do you do if the participants involved in a mediation process  choose not to engage with the other person and the process and say or do things to antagonise and inflame the situation rather than to move closer to or to seek common ground and a new understanding with the other person. In this circumstance it is not always effective or appropriate to help the person with the inappropriate behaviours to examine and consider different possibilities or approaches or to vent their pent up feelings in front of the other party.

A more effective approach can be found in coaching one or both parties individually to think about and consider their options for any change of approach and behaviour. This coaching approach will give them the time, space, support and challenge to reflect away from the gaze of the other party. If the employee responds to coaching then they can be invited back to the mediation process ready to take new behaviours and approaches into establishing a more appropriate dialogue with the other party.

So if you are about to embark on a mediation process with two employees consider coaching.