The Challenge of People Management

A research report just released this week on ‘Absence Management’ from the Charterted Institute of Personnel and Development & Simply Health cited workplace stress as the leading cause of long-term stress in the workplace and cites one of the main causes of this being ‘management style’.

According to Dr Thomas Gordon (Leadership Effectiveness Training, 2001, p.5) feedback from over twenty peers and direct reports in the case of a single plant manager following completion of leadership training identified him as having the following ‘desirable characteristics’:
– “Listens with understanding; willing to discuss problems; open to ideas; gives time to listen
– Supports and helps; backs you up; is on your side; remembers your problems;
– Uses team approach; helps group reach better decisions, facilitates co-operation
– Avoids close supervision; does not overboss; does not dictate
– Communicates openly and honestly, tells you what he thinks, you can trust what he says”

You might think ‘all very nice but do we have the time and what about the bottom line??’ – however it appears there were also organisation-wide improvements in co-operation between departments, efficiency and cost reduction, profits and productivity.

The reality is that most managers get promoted because of their expertise and experience in their field of training. But management of a team requires not just skills as an engineer, nurse, IT specialist but also skills in effectively managing and bringing the best out in people. Expecting managers to be able to do this without adequate support and training is setting them up for failure and leaving them exposed to being seen as a source of stress.

If you are finding some of the people management aspects of your role challenging, then get in touch – we can provide you with training, consultancy or coaching in key skills around communication, preventing and resolving conflict.

Setting up an Internal Mediation Progamme

The last post focused on how organisations can make the benefits of mediation more available and accessible by establishing an internal panel of mediators. Let us look now at some key considerations in this process.

1. Initial needs assessment – carrying out a conflict audit of the organisation in order to assess how conflict currently impacts people, productivity and profits. This gives a clear benchmark to do a costs/benefits analysis as to whether such a panel is in the first place warranted. It also provides a basis for future evaluation of an internal mediation service.

2. Ensuring there is a good understanding of, and openness to, the process of mediation and the benefits of having an internal mediation service, from key stakeholders – senior management, unions/employee representatives, human resources department, health and safety representatives championing and promoting such a service.

3. Mediator Selection Process: There are a number of options here for example, candidates can be nominated by key stakeholders or the role can be advertised internally – ideally there would be some awareness raising about mediation and conflict management prior to this to help potential candidates make an informed choice as to whether this role would fit for them.

4. Training of Mediators: Ensure that mediators’ training conforms to recognised accreditation standards such as the Certified Mediation level with the Mediators’ Insititute of Ireland

5. Access to the Mediation service: Develop clear procedures around how staff and managers can avail of this service, information leaflets, protocols around key mediation principles such as confidentiality, impartiality of mediator.

6. Underpinned by policies and procedures: Ensuring that there are supportive and complementary policies and procedures in place underpinning the use of mediation to resolve disputes. A policy document around terms of reference for the in-house mediation programme would also need to be developed.

7. Designated champion: Consideration of the need for a designated co-ordinator and steering committee to champion and drive the programme within the organisation

8. Adequate resourcing: Ensuring that the organisation is prepared to resource the programme, which in addition to set-up costs will involve ongoing costs in relation making the Mediators available to conduct mediations during their working week as well as time for ongoing support and training for the team

9. Promotion of the mediation service: Consideration of how the mediation service will be promoted – the development of information booklets and guidance and dissemination of this throughout all levels of the organisation

10. Supportive Continuing Professional Development: Setting up a framework that would ensure mediators have access to supervision/mentoring as structured further training opportunities

11. Evaluation: Establishing in advance the framework for evaluation of the mediation service.

If you would like to know more about establishing an internal mediation programme in your organisation, please email us at