Team mediation

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Mediation is a separate and specific discipline. Mediation, as a discipline, proposes a process made of steps which are adaptable to the context and rules of communication and functioning. The mediator is the guarantor of this process. Mediation aims to reach, without obligation of result for the mediator, the best result as possible for the parties - not for the third party mediator.

Contents

[edit] From the Individual Decision-Making to the Collective Decision-Making

It is an accompaniment method of individuals in view to take a joint decision.

From this definition, we have observed the decision-making process within a team work, such as a steering committee and more broadly the decision-making process of a structure, such as a company or any other form of organization (association...).

We have studied the various modes of team functioning and companies' governance. We have also analyzed the different techniques of staff empowerment, management of the change (seminars, team building, team coaching, etc....), in short, all these tools and approaches of consultants and coaches that bloom in our companies for several years but whose results are very unsatisfactory. Such analysis leads to point out that the fundamentals of mediation are absent from all these approaches.

From this observation, we have developed processes for a team, a structure to make decisions based on the fundamentals of mediation.

Logic implies that we can proceed by steps in view to resolve any difficulties that a company or a team may encounter. Here are the 3 steps in order to our logical process of problem resolution:

  • 1 - Identification and problem analysis
  • 2 - Decision-making to resolve the problem
  • 3 - Implementation of decisions and follow-ups

These 3 steps are equally important although they are elementary logic, many ignore and skip them regularly. Our meetings are too often exhausting and ineffective times because we are rarely able to "dance in the rhythm" and following the "music", we privilege the din of debates, boring monologues and unsaid comments to the constructive dialogue leading to a shared decision.

In practice, three reasons are likely to motivate our team meetings. We want to:

  • 1 - Observe a situation with the intention to propose improvements
  • 2 - Consult each other to make a decision in view to solve a problem
  • 3 - Coordinate our actions aiming at the achieving of our decisions

These 3 activities are necessary for the problem resolution and require specific places and periods.

Mediation approach enables to distinguish and integrate these 3 meeting stages in order to support the problem resolution process better. The groups which will be formed to create these meeting times are named:

  • 1 - The group of improvement
  • 2 - The circle of Mediation for decision-making
  • 3 - The Coordinating committee or Management committee

The group of improvements is made up of qualified persons who are authorized to investigate a problematic situation and suggest a proposal to the group which has mandated him.

The circle of Mediation for decision-making is composed of all members of a work unit. The structure of a mediation circle is therefore the same as the classic one.

The coordinating committee or management committee is made of team members. Its mandate is to implement decisions from the circle of mediation and to follow them up.

In classic organizations, the circle of decision-making corresponds as the coordinating committee or management committee. However, when the coordinating or management committee assumes that authority, the executive power manages the legislative power at the same time. It means that this committee assumes the power to manage the organization without the consent of its members.

The separation of powers is a principle known since the advent of democratic governance. It is recognized in democracy that the dominance of one of the three powers (legislative, executive or judicial) breaks the bond of trust between the social partners because this dominance installs the dictatorship. This regime can be temporarily benevolent and comfortable, but in any case, it denies human freedom and responsibility, and is therefore not compatible with the fundamentals of mediation.

As in the mode of governance known under the term sociocracy, mediation approach defends the principle of separation of powers by setting up a communication structure that distinguishes the place of decision-making from the place of execution. The decisions are studied in the groups of improvement; they are taken in a circle of mediation and are implemented by the executive committee of the unit.

[edit] Movements that will Animate these Places of Meeting. The Sequence of these Movements or Activities Respects the Logical Process of Problem Resolution

The Group of Improvement Goal: Express a proposal Steps:

  • Define the problem
  • Analyze the causes
  • Propose a solution

The Circle of Mediation Goal: Make a decision Steps:

  • Clarify the proposal
  • Decide the proposal
  • Promulgate the decision

The Steering Committee Goal: Implement the adopted decision Steps:

  • Measure the progress
  • Adjust the mandate
  • Relaunch the action

Each place of meeting is therefore in charge of three stages in the problem resolutions process.

[edit] The Three Processes that Constitute the Logical Approach of Problem Resolution Proposed by Mediation

  • Development process of a proposal
  • Mediation process: decision-making by consent
  • Execution process of decisions

The main contribution of the mediation approach lies in the establishment of a particular process of decision-making by consent in a place that is separate from the two other more usual processes: development of propositions and implementation of decisions. As we will see later, mediation directly impacts the aspects of appropriation and relevance of decisions. It also contributes to the acceptance of changes, improvement of the unit operation (quality approach) and to the creation of a real team and corporate culture.

[edit] Brief Description of the Mediation Process which Enables Decision-Making by Consent

Circle of mediation: process of decision-making by consent

A good decision is the one that respects the limits, tolerances and needs of those who will have to live the consequences of this decision.

The mediation approach ensures an "equal weight" to all members of the organization during the decision-making process. Naturally all speeches must respect the hierarchical channels and everyone is invited to discuss at his own level regarding the wanted changes for the organization before its promotion to the upper hierarchical level... this up to the top of the pyramid.

[edit] Work Process of the Mediation Circle

Clarification

  • 1- Clarify proposal
  • 2- React to the proposal
  • 3- Amend the proposal if necessary

Decision

  • 4- Collect objections
  • 5- Improve the proposal through objections
  • 6- Get the consent of members

Promulgation

  • 7- Write the decision
  • 8- Approve the writing of the decision
  • 9- Assess the process


[edit] 1- Clarify Proposal

From the outset, the mediator, as the facilitator of the decision-making circle, offers to the circle's members the opportunity to ask questions in order to enable everyone to understand the proposal. This step directs the members for the definition of the used terms and general intent of the proposal and not to express their opinions regarding the proposal.

[edit] 2- React to the Proposal

Once the circle's members have understood the proposal, the mediator gives them alternately a speaking time in order to enable them to react. The speaking time of each member is based on the available time. The reaction time is not a time for debate. The mediator of the circle does not allow the retorts or discussions between the other members. Each member can present his viewpoints without being questioned.

[edit] 3- Amend of the Proposal if Necessary

After having collected the arguments expressed during the previous open forum, the person authorized to submit the proposal to the circle (usually a circle's member) is free to amend it. This procedure saves a considerable time when, during the previous step, members had the opportunity to express their personal opinions.

[edit] 4- Collect Objections

May the proposal be amended or not, the mediator gathers, at this stage, objections to the proposal from all members of the circle. It is recommended to start with a first turn just to know if there are or not objections and thereafter to return to the members who have expressed an objection in order to help them to formulate and note it. The circle of members can be requested to help for that. It must be remembered that in a mediation circle, all objections are welcome.

[edit] 5- Improve the Proposal through Objections

Once all the objections are written on the paperboard, the order of their importance will be decide according to a weighted choice if members agree. Thereafter, the circle's members will be invited to be creative in view to improve the proposal through objections. If this is impossible, the objection falls (is withdrawn) unless it completely reverses the proposal.

[edit] 6- Get the Consent of Members

Once the proposal has been improved with the objections, the secretary of the circle writes down the new proposal. The mediator, during another turn of opinion, asks all the members of the circle if they still have objections to the new proposal. If so, we go back to Stage n°4. Otherwise, the process pursues.

[edit] 7- Write the Decision

At this stage, the mediator requests the circle's secretary to write the decision.

[edit] 8- Approve the Writing of the Decision

The mediator makes approved the writing of the decision by the circle's members on the basis of consent.

[edit] 9- Assess the Process

In any mediation meeting, the assessment stage is crucial. It enables the circle to learn from this experience. This is possibly the most important function of a mediation circle: the development of our own culture. This is a time of reflection, of return on oneself without which the meeting would be incomplete and may unconsciously continue outside the circle. The official closing of the meeting enables everyone to let in the circle what belongs to the circle and shall serve its evolution.

[edit] Authors

  • Bernard Marie Chiquet
  • Gilles Charest, President of SOCIOGEST
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