Building and developing Northumbria University’s pool of Mediators:

As a long-standing client we were more than happy when Northumbria University asked if we would help them expand their team of internal mediators and support the continuing professional development of the existing pool.

Those who were looking to join the pool of mediators attended the 2-day Mediating Conflict course which is designed to provide HR / OD professionals with the knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to effectively intervene in workplace conflict situations and resolve disputes before relationships go toxic.

The course is a blends the technical and theoretic with the practical as people explore what drives and sustains workplace conflict and how a range of different tools and techniques can be deployed to resolve even the most problematic situations. What makes this course different is the use of drama-based learning techniques where two facilitators, who are also professional actors, create authentic scenes and characters for people to interact with.  This not only helps to bring alive complex issues and make them accessible, this approach also ensures the skills practice component is authentic so people get a genuine chance to hot-house the tools and techniques they are introduced to throughout the course.

It’s immersive, intense and stretching… but, if those who attended are to be believed, was still enjoyable and fun! What it certainly did do is prepare people thoroughly for the rigours of formal mediation whilst also augmenting their existing toolkit so they could more readily and effectively engage with situations before they become too problematic.

For the existing pool of mediators, the approach was slightly different. A 1-day programme was designed and delivered that focused heavily on the practical elements, working with the drama-based facilitators both to practice new tools and techniques and to explore why things have and haven’t worked in the situations they have mediated in the past.  By “workshopping” issues in this way, the group were able to both draw on the expertise of the facilitators and also share each other’s experience and insights.

Taking this approach not only honed skills and techniques, it also helped develop the group’s ability to support one another and create a way of providing structured supervision as part of ongoing professional development.