Sarah Albon, Civil Service Mediation Champion
Hello, I should start by introducing myself. I am the new Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Executive. But I’m writing this blog post in my role as the first Civil Service Mediation Champion – a role that I am very proud to fill. This post is about why you should consider mediation when resolving disputes, and what I want to achieve in the role. You may have the following questions...
Why it is important to build good relationships with colleagues?
Everything we do well in the Civil Service is built on working well together. It’s about collaborating with a wide range of different people that you may not encounter in your personal life. It’s about building positive relationships with all colleagues.
Good relationships mean a good working environment, and that makes us all happier, healthier and more productive at work.
We all put great effort into understanding, including and getting along with our colleagues. Sometimes, because of events, behaviours or differences in personality, we don’t understand each other’s point of view, which can create unnecessary tension and end up in a poor relationship.
What can we do when a work relationship is broken?
Many disputes with a colleague are down to small misunderstandings, clumsy comments or inaccurate assumptions. Mediation is about helping you share points of view, explore issues and find a positive way forward for both colleagues involved.
Mediation is about building mutual understanding so your relationship can be repaired, and you can work together more positively in the future. The conversation is guided by trained independent mediators, and the entire process remains completely confidential.
Does mediation work?
Having worked in both the criminal and family justice systems I’ve seen at first hand how powerful mediation really can be.
I’ve also seen how professional relationships that had broken down, became trusting and positive after mediation, as the colleagues involved gained a better understanding of one another.
I’ve seen how personal relationships, that everyone considered beyond repair, became ones of respect and tolerance again.
Yes, mediation works, and it can change a relationship forever.
What’s the alternative to mediation?
The formal processes we use to resolve disputes have an important place in ensuring everyone knows their rights and can report inappropriate behaviour. However, these processes look backwards at historical events, can be very time-consuming and diminish trust.
Mediation, by contrast, is an informal process that looks forward at how a relationship can improve and help colleagues better understand each other.
What will I bring to the Mediation Champion role?
I wanted to open Mediation Awareness Week as it is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of mediation and the benefits it can bring to the Civil Service. A large part of my role is about helping raise awareness and encouraging organisations to make better use of mediation.
As champion, I plan to speak to your senior leaders in the coming weeks. I will share the progress your organisations are making with mediation and offer support where needed. I will take the opportunity to share good practice from others and celebrate success in organisations where mediation is already at the forefront of their approach to dispute resolution. I’m thrilled to hear so many of you are already doing great work to spread the word!
Through this work and the support of the growing CS mediation community, we will be working over the coming months to raise awareness of mediation and its benefits. I hope we can accelerate the progress and promote mediation as one of the first steps to resolve any workplace dispute.
Want to find out more about mediation in the Civil Service?
If you would like to find out more about mediation, how it works, and the name of your organisation’s mediation SPoC (single point of contact), please search ‘mediation’ on your departmental intranet.