Conflict within companies can be very costly, both in time and resources. Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, may be helpful as you consider ways in which you can transition from conflict to productivity within your own organization.
The three most common ADR techniques are: mediation, arbitration, and med-arb. During mediation a neutral third party facilitates a discussion between disputants with the hope that they can reach a voluntary agreement at the end of the process. Mediators have a range of styles that may range from frequently meeting separately in caucus with parties to only meeting as a group.
In arbitration a neutral third party listens to each side of a conflict and then makes a binding decision about the dispute. As a manager, for example, you might arbitrate a conflict between two software technicians about which software should be updated. You would hear out each side and then make a final decision about which program should be developed based on the information you are given.
Med-arb is a hybrid between mediation and arbitration. In this format, the discussion begins with the third party acting as a mediator. If the disputants are unable to reach a decision, the third party then becomes an arbitrator and makes a binding decision about how to resolve the conflict. In med-arb as a manager you retain your right to make a final, binding decision while still encouraging open dialogue and creative problem solving among disputants.
With so many options how do you know which one works best in your situation? It is important to consider the various strengths and weaknesses of each process and how well they mesh with your company’s environment.