By J.Santos, Mediator- Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity
Countless DOC employees have taught me that it takes a lot of grit to have a discussion about workplace issues and the role everyone can play to improve things for the better. Everywhere I go, I always get asked the following three questions which have become motivators in my daily work.
Q.1: “So a mediator means you decide the outcome right?”
Not exactly and here is why. Mediation is the art and science of using dialogue to help people solve difficult problems. I like to say my job is a mix between a Taxi Cab Driver, Waiter, Coach, and Interpreter. The similarity between all these roles is that the main task is to assist someone else in reaching an end goal. What is unique about mediation as opposed to other forums—
grievance, litigation, arbitration—is that the outcome is not up to me but it’s the job of employees to find their own resolution. Employees do the hard part which entails talking through a difficult issue with a coworker or supervisor.
Q.2: “What difference does what you do make?”
Since its inception in FY 2009, the Meet to Resolve Mediation (MTR) Program has provided employees, supervisors, managers, and teams alternative ways to address workplace conflict.
From our performance metrics the numbers tell us that our efforts have made a difference in the following ways:
- From FY’13 to FY’16 we have served a total of 146 referrals seeking coaching, mediation, consultation, and training services.
- In FY’15, 60% of mediation referrals found both resolution/closure and did not escalate further to investigation, discipline, or union grievance.
In addition to performance data employees themselves have shared their own experiences in utilizing the MTR program:
“It was a difficult process but very helpful and I believe it will solve our issues.”
“I have changed since the mediation.”
“Great experience, great weight gone….glad it worked.”
Q.3: “What is Meet to Resolve aiming for?”
Program services can be powerful as I have witnessed employees shed away years of frustration through open dialogue and honesty. Workplaces have improved simply because the Meet to Resolve program provided the space needed for employees to talk things out, get to the core of the issue, and find ways to move forward. Despite any and all efforts, workplace conflict will happen so long as we are human. Everyone plays a part in improving a situation for better or worse. The difference maker really boils down to how we choose to engage those around us.
If you have questions or would like to find out more about the Meet to Resolve program consider contacting me via phone (508-850-7747) or email jovonte.santos@MassMail.State.MA.US