Author Archive

Why workplace conversations are more important than ever 

Like many other people, I have felt very troubled recently by the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester and of course the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The victims – and their families – of all of these terrible events of course need a different scale of time and space in which to grieve. For the rest of us, though, there is also a need somehow to find a way to work through our collective shock and sorrow at what has happened.

My Dad passed away the day after the 9/11 attacks, so of course I think of him instinctively whenever terrible events disturb us all. I learnt from him how important it is, in this mad and pressurised world of work, to take time to rest the mind and to allow ourselves the time to slip our brains into a neutral gear in order to stop and reflect.

It is this lesson, particularly in difficult times such as these, that we try our best to pass on through all aspects of the work we do with clients. Even those not directly involved in terrible events still feel deep emotion at what they hear and see. And we especially need to listen and talk to each other – more than ever – about how we feel.

Approached in this way, the workplace can be an essential forum for the recovery of our collective self-confidence. It should never be a place to deny or suppress our emotions – heartfelt discussions about shocking events can do only good things. They help us understand one another better and, ultimately, play an important role in accelerating our recovery from horror to renewed hope.

Caroline Sheridan, Chair, Workplace and Employment CMC group and Founder of Sheridan Resolutions

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Small steps make a big difference

Everywhere you go, there are opportunities to understand and appreciate the benefits of mediation across all walks of life. The mediation of disputes can provide solutions which meet the needs of all parties, cost much less than litigation, are dealt with more speedily, avoid disruption, remove the debilitating effects of conflict and restore relationships.

In the workplace, even the simplest dispute can take a long time to reach a court decision and requires a significant input of time from all litigants, with the consequences of ‘losing’ serious for both business and individuals. Private sector companies and individuals have much to gain by intervening early in conflict situations though using mediation. Public sector organisations can also benefit from massive savings in time and money.

Every small step towards a commonplace awareness of the positive case for mediation has to be a good thing. It may seem like a long time way but the next UK Mediation Awareness Week this October is the perfect example of many small events making a big difference. These will include conferences, seminars, talks and debates involving all aspects of mediation.

Great progress was made last year in UK Mediation Awareness Week in raising awareness, with a number of excellent events. Each of us should consider what small steps we can take to make a space for mediation in our lives – click on the link if you want to join us and make a difference.

It is so heartening to hear the positive language of the current debate around mediation. And now we need to take lots of small steps advance further and create a greater awareness among business leaders, managers and worker representatives around the concept of mediation as a swift, discreet and cost-effective method of resolving employment disputes.

Caroline Sheridan, Chair, Workplace and Employment CMC group and Founder of Sheridan Resolutions

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Executive coaching key to creating a learning culture

As a company grows, the personality and idiosyncrasies of its leader sets the tone for the entire workplace culture. Very few leaders come to the table with the full set of skills they need to build their companies – and the way they think and act can affect everyone around them.

Those who understand the challenges associated with building and scaling a successful company can attest to the benefits of executive coaching. By encouraging leaders with whom we work to get into the habit of being coached, we set in place the start of a learning culture for all.

For many, this requires a change in leadership style, as the leader moves from a position of dominance to one of enabling learning and creating knowledge within their teams. And leaders needs to be learning constantly themselves – just like anyone else – and that makes it as easy as possible for others to do the same.

To develop a coaching culture requires an understanding that everyone has their own learning style. A skilled executive coach knows that no two people think the same. So a prescriptive approach can never work – only the learner can discover how, via their own growing self-awareness, they can move forward.

Coaching is therefore there to fill the gap and unlock the potential in each individual. At present, however, only around one-third of organisations make use of it in developing people for executive roles.

Most continue instead to rely upon customised training and developmental job assignments as the foundation of their leadership development approach. This is a shame, as executive coaching is inevitably a far more effective as part of an overall learning strategy, rather than a standalone.

Caroline Sheridan, Chair, Workplace and Employment CMC group and Founder of Sheridan Resolutions

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

The power of empowerment

We’ve been really busy in recent weeks with all sorts of varied work for clients – the diversity of the challenges we face is one of the most enjoyable parts of working for Sheridan Resolutions. When you have seemingly disparate challenges to deal with, it’s natural to look for common factors causing them – and their possible resolution. Currently, I see “empowerment” running through many workplace situations, like a word running through a stick of seaside rock.

 

Mediation, for example, has long been seen as a means to promote the empowerment of its participants. But what does empowerment mean in practice? In mediation, empowerment surely means individual growth and a new feeling of confidence to find one’s voice in potentially difficult future situations. This personal development does not occur straight away, nor is it an inevitable outcome of mediation. Today, therefore, the mediator needs to think not only about the mediation in front of them, but also keep an eye to the future by creating the environment in which each individual’s growth will be actively encouraged once the present challenges are resolved.

 

In executive coaching, empowerment is all about helping individuals to bring improved levels of performance to their existing and future roles. One of my favourite quotes, from the executive coaching pioneer Sir John Whitmore, is that “Coaching [unlocks] a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” A skilful coach helps individuals to remove or reduce internal obstacles to their performance, so that their natural ability is empowered thereafter.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Reflections on a successful event …

I wanted to take the opportunity of this week’s editorial to thank everyone involved in last week’s Civil Mediation Council (CMC)  event – “Save Time, Save Money, Save Stress: Make Mediation Work for You” – an event that highlighted an upsurge of interest in workplace mediation.

The speakers and panellists all made wonderful contributions – as can be seen in this week’s lead article in this special issue. And all the feedback during and after the event shows it to have been an outstanding success. Mediation is achieving an accelerated rate of momentum as a means of addressing workplace disputes.

What our audience wanted – and got – were the arguments and strategies in favour of its adoption and the confidence to anticipate and address the most likely challenges to its introduction. We are also seeing a dramatic shift in thinking from a mere acceptance of the benefits of mediation in the abstract, towards a desire from delegates for a more practical understanding. In particular, around how to convince employers to use mediation as an integrated part of their conflict resolution offer.

These are exciting times for mediation – and so naturally I’m also extremely delighted to have been appointed to the board of the Civil Mediation Council, effective 8th February. The CMC’s values of excellence, innovation and growth, informed debate and openness and inclusion are values that we all hold dear. I look forward to helping CMC continue to pursue its mission of “inspiring all sectors of society to use mediation when managing and resolving disputes.”

Caroline Sheridan, Board member of the Civil Mediation Council (CMC); Chair, Workplace and Employment CMC group; and Founder of Sheridan Resolutions

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

CMC Conference shows upsurge of interest in workplace mediation

A sell-out conference from the Civil Mediation Council (CMC) – “Save Time, Save Money, Save Stress: Make Mediation Work for You” – has highlighted an upsurge of interest in workplace mediation.

The conference, held in front of a packed audience in the Old Library of Lloyd’s of London on February 1st, signals a dramatic shift in thinking from a mere acceptance of the benefits of mediation in the abstract, towards a desire from delegates for a more practical understanding. In particular, the conference set out to show how delegates could convince employers to use mediation as an integrated part of their conflict resolution offer.

Caroline Sheridan, Chair, CMC Workplace and Employment Group and Founder of Sheridan Resolutions, says: “All the feedback during and after the event shows it to have been an outstanding success. Mediation is achieving an accelerated rate of momentum as a means of addressing workplace disputes. What this audience wanted – and got – were the arguments and strategies in favour of its adoption and the confidence to anticipate and address the most likely challenges to its introduction.”

While workplace mediation has been more associated with the public sector in the past, a fascinating interactive audience polling session from  Professor Paul Latreille, Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor for Learning & Teaching, Sheffield University, revealed a near three-quarters (71%) private sector representation from among the senior-level audience. The desire for practical help was clear – nearly 4 in 5 (78%) had been aware of or experienced workplace conflict over the previous year – fuelled by an obvious business need to resolve disputes far more effectively The top 3 costs of workplace conflict identified by the audience were the damaging impact on management time (37%), a diminished motivation among parties in conflict (24%) and corrosive effects of workplace absence (14%).

After conference introductions from Sir Alan Ward (Chairman of the CMC) and Caroline Sheridan, Chair of the CMC Workplace and Employment Group, Sir Brendan Barber, Chairman of Acas, focused on helping audiences understand the circumstance in which mediation works best, namely around perceptions of unfairness and a lack of trust in workplace relations. And the main reason, Barber argued, why mediation is sometimes not introduced when it could lies in a lack of awareness of the strong business case of mediation.

Four fascinating, contrasting and practical case study presentations then followed. Mark Clements, Regional Head of HR, UK & Ireland, Sony Europe highlighted a 100% success rate from mediation efforts to date and large savings in costs. With the help of his HR team full of qualified mediators, he said, mediation crucially allowed participants the chance to genuinely listen to each other for the first time, in the process often revealing key misconceptions about the other party’s position. Robert Alcock, Head of Training at the BBC Academy, also highlighted high success rates, as well as the internal mediator’s own engagement through the enjoyable challenge he felt through helping others find their way through conflict at work. Pete Hodgson, Head of Employee Relations at Tesco Stores, urged delegates to make sure they spent enough time and on providing data and evidence to support the business case for mediation – the evidence is out there but line managers understandably want to know why they should invest in conflict resolution. And finally Karl Cockerill, Health & Wellbeing Practitioner and Mediation Coordinator at ELHT NHS Trust revealed his Damascene journey from arch mediation sceptic (even being labelled as the “Grievance King” by colleagues) to passionate convert to mediation. Once engaged, he argued, unions can play a pivotal role in improving the wellbeing of their members through this form of resolution.

David Whincup, Partner, Head of Employment at Squire Patton Boggs – dispelled lingering misconceptions of mediation as a “fluffy” option via a powerful legal perspective. Even when mediation fails, he said, much good usually follows from attempting to move parties closer to a resolution. Finally, Clive Lewis OBE, Founding Director of Globis Mediation Group, Fiona Colquhoun, CEDR Director, Acas Arbitrator & Executive Coach and Alex Efthymiades, Director and Co-Founder, Consensio weighed in with their views as part of a panel fielding insightful questions from a highly engaged audience.

The Civil Mediation Council is a membership body to promote mediation and dispute resolution. It believes that all sectors of society should look to mediation when managing and revolving disputes.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

2017: a great year ahead for mediation

It’s great to be looking ahead to 2017 already – and here’s why. One puzzle for many years has been to try to address the enormous disparity between the success rate in “formal” mediation in the workplace (which is over 80%) and its usage, which remains relatively low. Given the positive benefits of mediation on one side and the negativity of conflict on the other side, one obvious challenge to shape our thinking has to be why mediation isn’t already the default remedy for workplace conflict.

We have an exciting event scheduled for February 1st to tackle this paradox. On that day, the Civil Mediation Council’s Workplace and Employment Group will host a conference in the Old Library, Lloyds’ of London – click on our lead article or click here for more details. The conference is designed to equip business, legal and HR leaders with the necessary information and approaches to “sell” mediation within their organisation. Invited speakers have specific experience in introducing workplace mediation and making it part of managers’ thinking and practice.

This event is designed to bring together practitioners and end users who will appreciate guidance on:-

  • Raising awareness amongst staff of workplace mediation
  • Success factors and challenges in both its introduction and its take-up
  • Encouraging management participation

Using workplace mediation as an integral part of your grievance procedure

  • Proactively addressing workplace disputes
  • The role of mediation in future employment litigation.

The conference will include contributions from the BBC, Sheffield University, Tesco Stores, Squire Patton Boggs and mediation practitioners together with other experienced users from the business community. CMC Chair Sir Alan Ward and Sir Brendan Barber of Acas will both address the conference.

Whether you are a convert or sceptic, approach 2017 with an open mind by attending this workplace mediation conference. In-house counsel, HR, line management, trade unions or work representatives can all learn how to use mediation to get the results which will make others sit up and take notice.

 

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

How difficult conversations can have positive outcomes

It’s been busy recently – and in a very good way.  The positive power of mediation is clearly moving up the agenda, in the workplace as elsewhere. Amid the encouraging signs, however, we have to remember the “touchstone” of best practice in mediation, as well as continuing to raise its profile. So I wanted to remind you of a book called “Difficult conversations: How to discuss what matters most” by Patton, Stone and Heen.

To have a difficult conversation is something we all struggle with: we know we must address an issue with a colleague and we also know it risks being uncomfortable and possibly worse. So we repeatedly put it off before finally stumbling into a confrontation, when we could have had a more positive experience had we tackled it earlier.

Difficult Conversations is based on many years of research at the Harvard Negotiation Project. It teaches us to understand that we’re not engaging in one dialogue but three: the “what happened” stories (what do we believe was said and done), the “feelings” conversation (the emotional impact on everyone involved), and the “identity” conversation (what does this mean for everyone’s opinion of themselves).

I am still learning every day how to be a better mediator – and I encourage everyone to learn to look at difficult conversations as a source of positive long-term learning rather than a negative short-term discomfort. And in a world full of tricky conversations, understanding their multi-layered nature really helps us move on quickly from difficulties to better relationships between individuals and teams.

Caroline Sheridan, Chair, Workplace and Employment CMC group and Founder of Sheridan Resolutions

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

How executive coaching can drive diversity

There’s an excellent lead article in this week’s Coaching & Mediation Weekly on a much under-discussed benefit of executive coaching – increased diversity.
Many organisations talk well about diversity, but far fewer deliver well. Yet executive coaching can show not just the coachees, but also organisations that employ them, exactly what individuals are capable of in the long-term. And it is immensely powerful in developing the career ambitions and potential of groups previously under-represented in senior management roles.

The ability to help coachees to stretch their imagination and increase their self-belief is so valuable – and is much needed. Current estimates suggest that women hold less than a quarter of FTSE 100 directorships, while the figures are far poorer among the ethnic minorities. Working with those from diverse backgrounds helps to give them the confidence they need to approach their careers from a new angle, with a momentum that can carry them further within a company than they may have previously thought possible.

One clear conclusion, however, from our lead article, is a diversity mind set must begin at the top – a strong commitment to an inclusive culture is an imperative if executive coaching is to flourish.

We’re also delighted this week to highlight the City HR Annual conference on November 9th –and its theme “Making the World of Work better for employees”. City HR’s mission is to provide its members with the tools, research, best practice documents and expertise to support the challenges facing their businesses, through knowledge-sharing, training and peer networking aimed at professionals at all levels and across all areas of HR.

The conference is well worth a visit – click here for more details.

Caroline Sheridan, Chair, Workplace and Employment CMC group and Founder of Sheridan Resolutions

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →

Moving forward with mediation

It was so exciting to be asked earlier this year to become Chair of the Workplace and Employment group of the Mediation Sectors Committee of the Civil Mediation Council (CMC). Next week is our latest group meeting and I am so proud to be working with such a great team of professionals.
It’s been a long journey for mediation – and there’s still some way to go – but so many developments have given us encouragement that the profession is moving forward, including the recent UK Mediation Awareness Week and many other events besides.

I’ve seen mediation grow over the years from different vantage points. I worked as an HR director earlier in my career and have now practised as an accredited mediator for over a decade, via both CEDR and my own company, most often in the workplace and employment arena.

Regular readers will know that my vision is to be to help create an environment where workplace mediation is the norm, rather than the exception. It’s worth restating how we can bring this about.
Firstly, we need to promote awareness of all resources for workplace and employment mediators, corporate employers and the many other interested parties.

Secondly, we need to create a greater awareness among business leaders, managers, lawyers and worker representatives the concept of mediation as a swift, discreet and cost-effective method of resolving employment disputes.

Thirdly, we need to be at the forefront of changes in law and mediation practice by reinforcing and rejuvenating links with other organisations, such as Acas, the CIPD and the IoD.

Do you have an interest in workplace and employment mediation? I want to hear what any regular reader of this newsletter or blog thinks.

Caroline Sheridan, Chair, Workplace and Employment CMC group and Founder of Sheridan Resolutions

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 5 of 8 «...34567...»