No matter how smoothly things usually go in a workplace, there may come a time when colleagues don’t get along for some reason. Many of these disputes settle themselves over time, but not all of them. It might be two co-workers arguing over who is in charge of a project, or a supervisor having trouble with someone under them. If the issue doesn’t resolve, the tension causes problems for everyone who works there and makes them less productive.
If you have a dispute in your workplace that won’t go away and is disrupting work, consider mediation. A mediator is a neutral third party who is trained in a process of resolving disputes in ways that tend to maintain or heal relationships. A mediator works to facilitate an enforceable agreement that addresses all the issues raised, both apparent and underlying, and to repair the working relationship.
Mediation is not arbitration, with someone in authority proclaiming the result. Instead, it assists both (or all) parties to find their own solution to the problem. This results in more ownership of the solution, a sense of autonomy, and better employee engagement. Sometimes the solutions go far beyond the apparent problem, as when a chronically-late employee actually needs training so they don’t dread coming to work every day.
Mediation can take some time, and often the boss ends up involved in one way or another, but a successful mediation can get everyone back to work amicably; even an unsuccessful mediation will usually bring new facts to light that may lead to a future resolution. It is certainly worth trying before firing a valuable employee just to get rid of the problem.