Being the referee has perks

I’m a live and let live type of person. I like to think we are all mature enough to behave correctly. The only people I correct about behaviour are my children and those of close friends and family.

I know I’m HR, but I don’t want to police anyone, y’know? I set professional expectations and expect them to be followed.

So, when I realised that Zoe and Stuart stopped going to lunch together and didn’t actually speak with each other, I thought it would just blow over. They were friends way before I joined the organisation.

Then I received grievances from each of them about the other – on the SAME day! So I had no choice but to intervene. It seemed their friendship started suffering when, Zoe was promoted and became Stuart’s supervisor. 

Does this sound familiar to you?

I figured the best thing to do was get them in a room for a mediation session. I explained the rules around listening and respect, and opened the floor. It turned out that Stuart thought being managed by a mate meant that Zoe would cover for him the way she had when they were colleagues, while Zoe thought that Stuart should require less support than the other team members to hit targets, as she believed he was just as competent as her.

As I sat around the table with them clarifying the meaning behind the “always” and “nevers”, and finding the middle ground of their assumptions and expectations of one another, I felt like a Premier League referee.

Once we agreed and established professional boundaries, they were able to rebuild their friendship and work well together. So well that when Stuart got promoted to supervisor, he had Zoe to thank for raising his “A” game. And I got an honourable mention too.

See, refereeing has its perks!

If you’ve been noticing a change in the vibe amongst your team – here are some tips for an effective mediation session:

Leave your assumptions at the door – It’s easy to jump to conclusions when you’ve heard two versions of a story, don’t let your experience with either party lead to you to drawing conclusions.

Remain unbiased – you are an objective facilitator, you cannot take sides or show any bias. Treat both individuals equally.

Set the stage – Establish the rules for the how the session will go.

Don’t be afraid to pause – if it feels like the conversation is getting too heated or the rules are not being adhered to, you can adjourn for a break or reschedule for another day.

Make sure everyone has their say – It’s is important that both parties get to clear the air and get all of their frustrations out on the table.

Listen to understand – You do not need to solve the issue, you are supposed to facilitate a conversation NOT dictate the outcome.

Clarify points to make sure both parties are hearing the same thing – Often people jump to conclusions and hear what they are expecting to hear, rather than listening, it is your job to ensure that both parties, hear and understand each other’s issues.

Agree a set of boundaries to prevent issues reoccurring – The ideal outcome is to eliminate the behaviour that caused the issue between both parties, by implementing clear professional boundaries and expectations.

Review regularly – One mediation meeting may not be enough. You need to ensure that the issues do not reoccur, keep a check with both parties, to ensure the boundaries are being adhered to.

If you need a referee to help you with some mediation, contact us and we will schedule a call to discuss how we can help.