Frequently Asked Questions

Dorothy McKinney, Mediator and Coach, answers your most frequently asked questions about how to resolve difficult situations, reduce conflict and increase wellbeing in the workplace. 

Investigations

What are Workplace Investigations?

Workplace investigations are undertaken when there has been an incident of some kind or issues have come to light and you need to understand what happened to allow a decision to be made on the next steps. The investigation can be undertaken using the protocols of the relevant policy, e.g. bullying and harassment, discipline, equality, capability etc.

Why conduct Workplace Investigations?

It is important to conduct workplace investigations to ensure that all relevant information is gathered and analysed fairly and consistently which will then support a robust decision on the way forward.

Who should conduct Workplace Investigations?

It is important that the workplace investigation and decision-making processes are kept separate. This ensures independence and a more robust outcome. This means, except for very small organisations, that a manager should not undertake the investigation and then decide on the outcome.

The person conducting the investigation should also have the skills and knowledge to do so in a proportionate and robust manner.

How long do Workplace Investigations take?

For a straightforward investigation we usually estimate 2 hour meetings with the complainant and respondent and 1 hour meetings with witnesses.

Writing up and agreeing non verbatim notes takes time and a half again. Allow 3 hours for case management, add all the time up and allow half of this for writing the report.

Where the case is more complex, increase the time for interviews to 3 hours and witnesses to 1.5 hours and add time (depends on how many folders you are passed!) in to analyse information.

In terms of timescales, you need to allow for preparation, planning, agreeing dates to see people and giving them time to review notes and follow-up questions. Even the smallest investigation can take a few weeks to complete if there are challenges agreeing dates, times and representation.

What questions do you ask in Workplace Investigations?

Prepare for the meeting by thinking through all the questions which need answered depending on the information you already have. However it is very important to commence the meeting, after the usual opening statements with, ‘Tell me what happened,’ as this ensures that you get the context before and after the incident/issue and allow the person to tell it as they see it.

Open questions such as, ‘What happened? Who else was there? Why was that? What was going through your mind at the time?’ etc. are great questions and take no preparation.

Remember to follow up the answers to dig a bit deeper and really understand what happened.

What training do you need to conduct Workplace Investigations?

Our workshops cover the following:

• The legal and statutory context
• The critical role of Terms of Reference and planning
• How to conduct an investigatory interview
• Good questions to ask in an investigatory interview
• How to gather and analyse evidence
• Understanding corroboration
• How to prepare a robust report
• Understanding your potential role at a hearing, appeal and Employment Tribunal

This training will give you the skills and knowledge needed to conduct effective workplace investigations.

Conflict Resolution

Why is Conflict Resolution important in the workplace?

Maecenas posuere tempor auctor. Fusce quam felis, finibus non arcu nec, pellentesque posuere enim. Cras quis consectetur sapien. In sed lorem posuere, tristique risus ut, commodo odio. Aliquam iaculis consectetur orci in sollicitudin. Suspendisse dictum purus nec massa laoreet placerat. Nunc eros nibh, fringilla vel quam a, bibendum consequat dui. Donec turpis orci, sollicitudin nec varius id, consectetur et tortor.

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What is the Conflict Resolution process?

Maecenas posuere tempor auctor. Fusce quam felis, finibus non arcu nec, pellentesque posuere enim. Cras quis consectetur sapien. In sed lorem posuere, tristique risus ut, commodo odio. Aliquam iaculis consectetur orci in sollicitudin. Suspendisse dictum purus nec massa laoreet placerat. Nunc eros nibh, fringilla vel quam a, bibendum consequat dui. Donec turpis orci, sollicitudin nec varius id, consectetur et tortor.

Cras non maximus sem. Fusce quis iaculis ligula. Nullam eu dolor at neque facilisis pellentesque quis non dolor. Mauris tincidunt rutrum quam, at pharetra risus varius vitae. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Praesent faucibus at tortor eget dictum. Ut in dui porta, faucibus velit eget, fermentum nisi.

What Conflict Resolution tools do you use?

Maecenas posuere tempor auctor. Fusce quam felis, finibus non arcu nec, pellentesque posuere enim. Cras quis consectetur sapien. In sed lorem posuere, tristique risus ut, commodo odio. Aliquam iaculis consectetur orci in sollicitudin. Suspendisse dictum purus nec massa laoreet placerat. Nunc eros nibh, fringilla vel quam a, bibendum consequat dui. Donec turpis orci, sollicitudin nec varius id, consectetur et tortor.

Cras non maximus sem. Fusce quis iaculis ligula. Nullam eu dolor at neque facilisis pellentesque quis non dolor. Mauris tincidunt rutrum quam, at pharetra risus varius vitae. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Praesent faucibus at tortor eget dictum. Ut in dui porta, faucibus velit eget, fermentum nisi.

Which Conflict Resolution technique is most effective?

Maecenas posuere tempor auctor. Fusce quam felis, finibus non arcu nec, pellentesque posuere enim. Cras quis consectetur sapien. In sed lorem posuere, tristique risus ut, commodo odio. Aliquam iaculis consectetur orci in sollicitudin. Suspendisse dictum purus nec massa laoreet placerat. Nunc eros nibh, fringilla vel quam a, bibendum consequat dui. Donec turpis orci, sollicitudin nec varius id, consectetur et tortor.

Cras non maximus sem. Fusce quis iaculis ligula. Nullam eu dolor at neque facilisis pellentesque quis non dolor. Mauris tincidunt rutrum quam, at pharetra risus varius vitae. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Praesent faucibus at tortor eget dictum. Ut in dui porta, faucibus velit eget, fermentum nisi.

Question 5

Maecenas posuere tempor auctor. Fusce quam felis, finibus non arcu nec, pellentesque posuere enim. Cras quis consectetur sapien. In sed lorem posuere, tristique risus ut, commodo odio. Aliquam iaculis consectetur orci in sollicitudin. Suspendisse dictum purus nec massa laoreet placerat. Nunc eros nibh, fringilla vel quam a, bibendum consequat dui. Donec turpis orci, sollicitudin nec varius id, consectetur et tortor.

Cras non maximus sem. Fusce quis iaculis ligula. Nullam eu dolor at neque facilisis pellentesque quis non dolor. Mauris tincidunt rutrum quam, at pharetra risus varius vitae. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Praesent faucibus at tortor eget dictum. Ut in dui porta, faucibus velit eget, fermentum nisi.

Question 6

Maecenas posuere tempor auctor. Fusce quam felis, finibus non arcu nec, pellentesque posuere enim. Cras quis consectetur sapien. In sed lorem posuere, tristique risus ut, commodo odio. Aliquam iaculis consectetur orci in sollicitudin. Suspendisse dictum purus nec massa laoreet placerat. Nunc eros nibh, fringilla vel quam a, bibendum consequat dui. Donec turpis orci, sollicitudin nec varius id, consectetur et tortor.

Cras non maximus sem. Fusce quis iaculis ligula. Nullam eu dolor at neque facilisis pellentesque quis non dolor. Mauris tincidunt rutrum quam, at pharetra risus varius vitae. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Praesent faucibus at tortor eget dictum. Ut in dui porta, faucibus velit eget, fermentum nisi.

Mediation

How does workplace mediation work?

There are a number of models of mediation, however the one that we use in the workplace is where the mediator meets each person on a one to one basis and then undertakes a joint session. These sessions are always confidential unless all parties agree otherwise.

The one to one meetings support the parties to speak in a safe and confidential environment and deepens their understanding of what is happening between them and the other party.

The joint session supports the parties to identify and discuss the issues, gain a mutual understanding of what has been happening, how this has impacted on each other and then work on solutions.

When is mediation used in the workplace?

Mediation can be used at any stage in the conflict cycle – it gives a quick outcome and actions and/or changes to behaviour can be put in place immediately.

Mediation is a great tool where people need to work together in the future and both parties are willing to listen and shift their position to some extent.

An experienced and skilled mediator can work with issues which have been around for some time and support the parties to reflect and make some real changes to their behaviours and approach to others.

When is mediation not appropriate in the workplace?

Mediation is not the best conflict resolution tool to use if:

• A critical conduct related standard is at stake
• One or both parties have dug in and refuse to listen
• One or more have been involved in similar situations with others previously
• The input of others is needed to resolve the issue (e.g. if the manager has not dealt with the situation well)
• Policy does not allow this tool to be used at this point in the process
• There are significant organisational risks relating to the parties involved

In these circumstances, mediation is not appropriate. However, many other tools can be used in its place.

Wellbeing

Question 1

Maecenas posuere tempor auctor. Fusce quam felis, finibus non arcu nec, pellentesque posuere enim. Cras quis consectetur sapien. In sed lorem posuere, tristique risus ut, commodo odio. Aliquam iaculis consectetur orci in sollicitudin. Suspendisse dictum purus nec massa laoreet placerat. Nunc eros nibh, fringilla vel quam a, bibendum consequat dui. Donec turpis orci, sollicitudin nec varius id, consectetur et tortor.

Cras non maximus sem. Fusce quis iaculis ligula. Nullam eu dolor at neque facilisis pellentesque quis non dolor. Mauris tincidunt rutrum quam, at pharetra risus varius vitae. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Praesent faucibus at tortor eget dictum. Ut in dui porta, faucibus velit eget, fermentum nisi.

Question 2

Maecenas posuere tempor auctor. Fusce quam felis, finibus non arcu nec, pellentesque posuere enim. Cras quis consectetur sapien. In sed lorem posuere, tristique risus ut, commodo odio. Aliquam iaculis consectetur orci in sollicitudin. Suspendisse dictum purus nec massa laoreet placerat. Nunc eros nibh, fringilla vel quam a, bibendum consequat dui. Donec turpis orci, sollicitudin nec varius id, consectetur et tortor.

Cras non maximus sem. Fusce quis iaculis ligula. Nullam eu dolor at neque facilisis pellentesque quis non dolor. Mauris tincidunt rutrum quam, at pharetra risus varius vitae. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Praesent faucibus at tortor eget dictum. Ut in dui porta, faucibus velit eget, fermentum nisi.

Question 3

Maecenas posuere tempor auctor. Fusce quam felis, finibus non arcu nec, pellentesque posuere enim. Cras quis consectetur sapien. In sed lorem posuere, tristique risus ut, commodo odio. Aliquam iaculis consectetur orci in sollicitudin. Suspendisse dictum purus nec massa laoreet placerat. Nunc eros nibh, fringilla vel quam a, bibendum consequat dui. Donec turpis orci, sollicitudin nec varius id, consectetur et tortor.

Cras non maximus sem. Fusce quis iaculis ligula. Nullam eu dolor at neque facilisis pellentesque quis non dolor. Mauris tincidunt rutrum quam, at pharetra risus varius vitae. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Praesent faucibus at tortor eget dictum. Ut in dui porta, faucibus velit eget, fermentum nisi.