Frequently Asked Questions

What is Campus Mediation Services?
What is Mediation?
Why should I mediate?
Who is eligible for mediation?
Is there cost involved?
Who will know I have contacted Campus Mediation Services?
What if my supervisor / department chair / dean contacts the CMS?
How do I know that I won’t be retaliated against for requesting or engaging in mediation?
How confidential is accessing and engaging in mediation services?
Who are the mediators and the program director and how do I know that they know what they are doing?
What if I know one or more of the mediators?
What kinds of conflicts are appropriate for mediation?
When is mediation inappropriate?
Why should I choose mediation rather than resolve the conflict myself?
What happens if one or both parties are unwilling to participate in mediation?
Do I need certain skills to try mediation?
What if I’m not sure whether to try mediation?

 

What is Campus Mediation Services? [top]
CMS is a program mandated by the University of Missouri system and designed to assist employees to find resolution to their workplace conflicts. Every campus of the UM system has a Campus Mediation Services program director. See the following links for more information.

CMS Mandate, Executive Order #30, 365.010/UM System Rules & Regs
CMS programs on other UM campuses

What is Mediation? [top]
Mediation is a structured communication process for people wanting to work out a conflict. It is an informal process led by impartial, trained mediators to help the parties engage in dialogue about the interests and issues of all involved in an attempt to come to solutions to the dispute that the parties mutually agree to.

Why should I mediate? [top]
You should mediate if you are involved in a challenging workplace situation with someone, would like for it to be improved, are willing to have an honest conversation about it, and are willing to work to improve it. You should mediate if you value and care about dialogue and healthy workplace relationships with your coworkers. The potential gain and what it would take to get there usually outweighs the costs and risks involved.

People choose mediation because, when compared to the University’s grievance process, mediation is faster, informal, and more likely to yield a result that addresses the actual problem people are experiencing. Because it focuses on finding mutually acceptable solutions, working relationships are often strengthened rather than damaged by findings of “winner” and “loser.”

Research has shown that agreements reached through mediation tend to be honored because the people involved in the conflict have decided for themselves what they will do.

Who is eligible for mediation? [top]
Mediation is a benefit offered to all MU employees to help them manage workplace disputes. This includes all faculty and staff. The CMS also is available to graduate students who have employee roles (i.e. teaching assistants, etc.) at the University, but only for work related disputes. The CMS is not available to undergraduate students.

Is there cost involved? [top]
There is no direct cost to MU employees or departments to use the CMS’s services. The real cost of engaging in mediation is time. While mediation can be time consuming, often it is time well spent because the time spent in mediation can alleviate lost time due to low morale and low productivity when coworkers experience conflict.

Who will know I have contacted Campus Mediation Services? [top]
The CMS does not share personal identifying information with the University’s administration or the Human Resources Office about who contacts them. However, the CMS does compile and share statistical information about the nature of the contact and services provided.

What if my supervisor / department chair / dean contacts the CMS? [top]
Sometimes supervisors, department chairs, and deans contact the CMS to refer cases to mediation. However, as soon as the referral is made, the supervisors, department chairs, and deans are only informed of whether or not the parties have agreed to mediation. After that the decision to mediate is made, the CMS does not share any further information about the participants or the mediation.

How do I know that I won’t be retaliated against for requesting or engaging in mediation? [top]
Mediation is an opportunity to improve a difficult situation through honest and candid communication. There should not be any retaliation against MU staff and faculty who request mediation or participate in mediation in good faith. If you believe you have been retaliated against for requesting or participating in mediation notify:

1. the CMS program director (Paul Ladehoff),
2. the Vice Chancellor for Human Resources (Karen Touzeau), or
3. the Assistant Provost (Lori Franz).

How confidential is accessing and engaging in mediation services? [top]
The CMS does not tell people that you contacted us or are engaging in mediation unless you request or give us permission to do so. The only mediators aware of your contact or involvement with us are those contacted to participate in the mediation as mediators after participants have had a chance to review the list of mediators for potential conflicts of interest. Parties are strongly encouraged to discuss how they want to handle confidentiality and make agreements accordingly. See our confidentiality guidelines.

Who are the mediators and the program director, and what are their qualifications? [top]
Our Mediators were selected because they have a reputation on campus as good listeners who are credible and trustworthy. All mediators are MU employees who have completed 24 hours of training in workplace mediation and engage in ongoing skill development. Some mediators are relatively new and some have a great deal of mediation training and/or experience. While there are stark differences between mediation and counseling, several of the mediators hold a Ph.D. in a counseling related field.

The program director has graduate degrees in Law and Conflict Resolution, has been mediating for many years and has personally conducted more than one thousand mediations for various kinds of disputes.

The program director and mediators are committed to maintaining the confidentiality of mediation conversations and are accountable to the MUCampus Mediation Services Code of Conduct.

What if I know one or more of the mediators? [top]
Participants will not engage in mediation with mediators they know or are otherwise uncomfortable using. If a participant is uncomfortable with all of the MU mediators, every effort will be made to bring in an outside mediator. While the program director is aware of all mediation participants and potential participants, only those mediators asked by the director to engage in mediation with specific participants are aware that those participants are seeking mediation. Prospective mediators are only contacted about engaging in mediation with specific participants after the program director has met with both people and both have indicated their desire to mediate. The mediators not specifically involved in the mediation are not aware of who is engaging in mediation or inquiring about mediation.

What kinds of conflicts are appropriate for mediation? [top]
Almost any type of workplace conflict, large or small, long-term or recent, is appropriate for mediation. Conflicts resulting from serious misconduct, however, are best handled through other campus procedures.

Conflicts, which have resulted in the filing of a grievance, can be mediated. If the parties agree to mediate, the parties can agree to extend the time frames associated with the grievance procedure. If you are considering whether to file a grievance and would like to pursue mediation, it may be possible to extend the time frames in which a grievance can be filed.

When is mediation inappropriate? [top]
Mediation is not advisable in situations where violence has been an issue, although exceptions can be made when appropriate. Mediation is not appropriate if one party cannot commit to acting in good faith, has a strong need to be perceived as right, or desires someone to determine the “truth”. Additionally, if a person cannot understand that the other party may have a contrasting viewpoint and experience and be involved in a discussion that includes those contrasting viewpoints and experience, then mediation is not be appropriate.

Why should I choose mediation rather than resolve the conflict myself? [top]
You are encouraged to resolve the conflict yourself if you can and feel comfortable doing so. If you would like some support and information to help you resolve the conflict yourself, the CMS will be happy to assist you. If you don’t feel comfortable trying to resolve it yourself or if your efforts have not produced the improved outcome you were hoping for, then it may be a good time to turn to mediation.

What happens if one or both parties are unwilling to participate in mediation? [top]
Mediation is a voluntary process. The potential participants are free to refuse mediation. There are no consequences for refusing to mediate, other than the fact that no mediation will occur. If mediation does not occur, the CMS may be able to help participants access other resources to try to improve the situation. If those measures do not help the situation, the parties are free to request mediation in the future.

Do I need certain skills to try mediation? [top]
It’s helpful if you can:

• communicate on your own behalf;
• participate rationally in a conversation with the other participant;
• listen to the other person (listening is not the same as agreeing);
• willingly engage in a problem solving process; and
• make and keep future commitments or follow through on a mutually agreed upon plan of action.

What if I’m not sure whether to try mediation? [top]
People and organizations “get used to” handling conflict in a certain way. It can be unsettling to think about responding to conflict differently. Mediation is not a process for determining truth or who is right. Therefore, if you have a strong need for either of those outcomes, mediation may not be the appropriate process for you. Mediation is, however, a rational problem solving process that focuses on searching for resolution that meet the parties’ needs and interests.

If you decide against mediation, the CMS will work with you to provide information, answer your questions, and refer you to other resources that may help you handle the situation.