For Line Managers


No way out? A sinking feeling when you arrive at work? And all because of an ongoing dispute you can’t see your way out of?

There is no need to get stuck in this. Prompt action with mediation can resolve it. Perhaps this has already been suggested to you?

  • An unresolved dispute is more likely to get worse than better.
  • You are the manager, so you are involved – what next?
  • How you act reflects on your performance too.

Why conflict arises

Disputes at work often arise from misunderstandings, conflicts of roles, or of personality. They happen because small disagreements about performance, responsibility, behaviour and attitude become stuck and go bad. And then people stop communicating properly.

An employee that you manage may be genuinely at fault, and this may seem obvious to you. But it may not be all their fault, and isn’t it your task to get them back on board, and willingly?

Perhaps the person or people involved have problems outside work that you don’t know about, and whilst your best advice may be ‘don’t bring problems to work’, there are many situations where it is very difficult to avoid. How can you help facilitate a change?

Sometimes your own management style fails to get the best out of your team. Being able to be honest about this without appearing to back down or be ‘soft’, can be awkward or embarrassing. However good your people skills, you can’t be expected to be perfect.

Mediation and the manager

Are you also under pressure, and need space for a broader review of how the current situation has come about? If everyone can see what needs to be done to resolve the current difficulty, rather than just blaming one person, or you, hopefully you can also prevent it happening again. This would be the best outcome possible.

Professional mediation ensures:

  • impartiality: an independent mediator does not take sides
  • timely intervention: not when people have the time to spare
  • situations are addressed before they become irretrievable
  • specialist skills from trained mediators
  • outcomes agreed by all parties, equally, without duress

Remember mediators are ‘omni-partial’ – that means being on everyone’s side, working positively for all, for each to find their best options, in a safe place. It means understanding the feelings and interests of each party, not being just a neutral bystander or listening to the loudest or most senior voices.


It is natural for some participants to feel apprehensive about a process they have not previously experienced. They may feel it will expose them, or that HR has ‘called in the cavalry’, and feel under pressure. In practice, as people work through the process they gain confidence, and find they can commit to what is a very successful approach to resolution. This shared commitment underpins every successful outcome, and in 85% of cases, it is.