3JM Company Inc.

Published Articles by David Balovich

Published in: Creditworthy News
Date: 8/19/99

I am writing this column as I return from a two day seminar I attended, as a participant, on mediation. I can tell you first hand there is a big difference in a seminar depending on what side of the lectern you are on. 

Recently, my firm has been engaged by a major corporation to mediate labor disputes between their employees and the company, covered under Title Seven of the EEOC.

Mediation is commonly referred to as conflict resolution and the role of the mediator is to assist the parties in identifying the root of their conflict and assisting them in coming up with solutions to resolve the dispute. The ultimate goal is to settle the conflict. 

This particular organization has chosen to adopt a different resolution model. Rather then focus on settlement and direct the parties to reach a settlement, the idea is to encourage the parties to communicate with each other by fostering recognition and empowerment. Rather then have the mediator lead, direct and control the process they now follow the participants as they discuss the conflict and allow them to reach agreement without any direction provided by the mediator. The result being that settlement of conflict is not required if communication and understanding as to why the conflict was created is achieved.

The concept is born out of the idea that these participants are going to continue to work with each other regardless of the outcome (employees are represented by several unions and have bargaining agreements) the company is more interested in going forward then dwelling on the past regardless of the outcome of the conflict. Therefore the more that can be done to open the lines of communication and get the parties talking to each other the less chance of conflict in the future.

As I was unfamiliar with this type of mediation, it was necessary to be successful, to obtain training. Two things came to mind during the past two days.

1. The reluctance on the part of some of my fellow attendees to be flexible in their thinking when being introduced to new ideas and procedures. If we cannot be introduced to change without looking at both the negatives and the positives then how can we expect to go forward and be more productive then we were yesterday?

2. Is this something that can be utilized throughout the organization and not just in the human resource department but in the area of credit & collections?

 As collectors we have been taught, trained and encouraged to be directing, authoritative and most importantly control the conversation. Perhaps we should consider transferring this role to the customer and empower them to be responsible for the consequences of their actions. This certainly requires more research and I plan to incorporate some of these concepts into my seminars beginning in July. 

I will keep you posted on the feedback I receive. If you have comments or suggestions please write to me. I will share your thoughts with our readers.

I wish you well.

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