|Workplace conflicts can distract Marine Corps personnel from focusing on the mission of their organization. For this reason, USMC policy is to use the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process at the earliest stage possible in civilian disputes, if feasible.
ADR is an alternate method for resolving all kinds of workplace disputes outside the traditional process of EEO complaints, grievances, and litigation. Mediation is the ADR process most commonly used by the Marine Corps. Unlike formal processes for resolving disputes, Mediation resolves disputes and conflicts at the earliest stage possible, it is relatively quick, and it is inexpensive.
During Mediation, which is a voluntary process, a certified neutral person facilitates a discussion between two or more parties to help them arrive at a mutually agreeable resolution of a dispute.
Mediation is not about fault or blame, it’s about results. It is confidential, helps to maintain work relationships, improves communication, and promotes creative solutions.
TYPES OF ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION:
MEDIATION: In Agency mediation the DON mediator helps the parties structure the dispute negotiations to expand the opportunity for solutions. The DON mediator facilitates the parties' resolution of the dispute by acting as a catalyst, focusing discussions, and assisting in the exchange of information. Mediation sessions typically involve the use of joint meetings and private sessions, called caucuses, to identify issues and explore resolution options. The DON mediator uses a facilitative mediation style and will not provide a neutral evaluation of the parties’ claims or defenses, but might ask tough questions, typically in the caucuses. These probing questions clarify issues, raise issues for consideration, and reality-test the parties’ assumptions.
GROUP FACILITATION: Group facilitation is a process in which a facilitator whose selection is acceptable to all members of the group, who is substantively neutral, and who has no substantive decision-making authority diagnoses and intervenes to help a group improve how it identifies and solves problems and makes decisions, to increase the group’s effectiveness.
CONFLICT COACHING: Have you ever been a party to a workplace dispute or issue that seemed intractable? As easy as it is to blame others, perhaps we contribute to problems in ways we cannot see. This session will help you distinguish between systemic and personal dynamics, and explore how we unknowingly exacerbate and escalate situations. Conflict coaching is one of the fastest growing ADR techniques being used in the federal workplace today. It’s a face-to-face interaction in which one-on-one communication occurs for the purpose of creating understanding, and developing interaction strategies and skills. Conflict coaching is flexible, cost effective (average session is 45-60 minutes, with 1-4 sessions total), easy to schedule and safe.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Do I have to participate if someone asks me to?
A: Mediation is a voluntary process.
Q: If I participate in Mediation, do I lose my rights under the EEO complaint process or the Negotiated or Administrative Grievance processes?
A: No, you do not lose your rights.
Q: Who can initiate an ADR process?
A: Anyone – employees, managers, unions.
Q: How long does it take to get a Mediator?
A: It takes approximately 3 weeks to obtain a Mediator once a request for Mediation is made.
Q: Where do the Mediation sessions take place?
A: In a Conference Room near your servicing EEO Office.
There are many benefits to using ADR:
- Disputes are generally processed and resolved more quickly.
- More creative resolutions that are acceptable to all parties are recommended.
- A third-party reviewer has not imposed undesirable resolutions on the parties.
- A durable and voluntary agreement is made.
Even when cases do not result in resolutions, ADR:
- Lays the groundwork for a subsequent settlement.
- clarifies the issues for a third-party review.