Happy Holidays

This season brings to mind the many things we have to be grateful for. One for me is being part of a community of people who care about what they do and who they’re helping, and they do their best every day. That is what a profession is supposed to be about and I consider myself fortunate to do my part with you.

Thank you for all you give and the opportunities to work together.

Sending wishes for your best health, happiness & prosperity this season and throughout the coming year!

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Let Employees Know the Resolution Door Is Open

Perhaps not since the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas headlines has the workplace been so charged with potential and actual reports of sexual misconduct.  Just before those events, in 1991, I’d taken my first law office job in a small labor and employment law firm.  So enormous was the media attention over the hearings, it set the path for my entire career.

With the facility of social media, the workplace is now facing a fresh, unprecedented wave of sexual harassment headlines, complaints and legal scrutiny.

Some of the most proactive advice to give employers and employees to help them address workplace misconduct is:

  • Make it well known to employees and co-workers that the resolution door is open and the opportunity to know their concerns is welcome.
  • Relate by sharing you both want the same thing – a workplace that is safe and does not interfere with the ability to work and succeed.
  • Provide or utilize a means of putting people in touch with someone who has authority to take the matter seriously and do something about it – be it in person or by way of an anonymous hotline.
  • Provide or make use of user-friendly contact options, such as identifying at least one female and one male to whom to report concerns.
  • Follow through and follow up.  This kind of communication and demonstrated commitment to accountability can make or break efforts to avoid, deescalate or resolve conflicts.  It may not be possible to share specific personnel action, but book-ending within a given time frame with general acknowledgements, at least, says the concerns raised are being taken seriously — to the reporter, as well as the alleged wrongdoer.
  • Consider involving a third-party employment law neutral in the process, such as a mediator, diversity/anti-discrimination trainer or investigator.  There are a variety of ways to approach workplace issues, and it’s never too late or too early to address them.

In other words, as Chicago Booth’s Linda E. Ginzel says, “leverage your strengths,” such as your respect for communication and reporting.

These messages and methods are probably already a part of your workplace or one you manage.  It may be as simple as engaging in or highlighting them to maximize the benefits of the workplace-level approach, and protect a job, human resources and other valuable investments.

On behalf of yourself, an employer or employee, please contact me anytime to discuss how a neutral can be of help.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Happily, Thanksgiving season is here. It’s a holiday about looking back over the year and giving thanks, and gathering for a meal that celebrates what we are fortunate to have.

It’s hard to think about Thanksgiving without the Thanksgiving table. As you might expect, being a mediator makes me particularly appreciative of tables. (If you’d like to read my musing on how integral they are, click here.)

As I look back on the year, I recall a lot marked by coming together at tables. There were good times, important times, purposes achieved and all kinds of things shared across them. I also remember many people I was joined by including some for the first time, and one for the last. So, backdrops they may be, let’s appreciate tables as a means for bringing about memorable times and many blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy celebrating all the bounties your year has provided, and all that has made them possible.

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Efficiency Tips For Early & Half-Day Mediations

Having mediated many recently-filed cases in half-day sessions, I know:  Early mediation works; half-day sessions are ample in the majority of cases; and most settle and yield satisfying results with less damage to heal from.  Of all, the greatest thing I’ve learned is that people are more capable (and desirous) of settling than realized.

There is more to be said, but here are some basic tips for successful half-day sessions:

  • Recognize and mediate soonest the cases which pose the greatest risk of diminishing returns. The well being of your client and your practice are both good reasons. (Related post: Beware of Diminishing Returns)
  • Be determined to be efficient and finish within the time allotted.  You’ll move boldly in a shorter time and be more decisive.
  • Come with your information in hand. Bring chronologies, statements, legal support, etc. to substantiate your assertions.
  • Come to terms with what information you lack and the cost of possibly obtaining it, and valuate accordingly.
  • Do not get distracted by what you might find with a little more time or discovery.  Chances are, others could obtain something more helpful to them, too.

By mediating with someone experienced and practiced at this pace, and who is mindful and helpful in working with these factors overall, you’ll be able to make the most of the settlement opportunity.

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Tables. Curiously fundamental yet unobvious.

Photo Copyright: <a href=”https://www.123rf.com/profile_neyro2008″>neyro2008 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

As Thanksgiving season arrived, I began picturing the day.  Of course, that was inseparable from the Thanksgiving table.  As a mediator, I perhaps give uncommon attention to tables, so some pondering ensued.

Is it too far a stretch to ask if tables might actually rival wheels as being game changers?  Really, consider their ubiquity and how integral they are.  What’s a meal without a table?  Or a meeting?  In many cases it’s even fair to ask, How much was achieved thanks in part to a table?

Curiously fundamental yet unobvious in their use, tables are essential in our lives.  They are central to where important, memorable things happen;  unimposing meeting points, if not what in fact draws us together.  Transcending miles and reasons by providing destinations and frameworks, alike, tables enhance attendance, gatherings, discussions and productivity.  No less, they play an important role in all the “showing up” that happens – something not to be taken for granted.

Of course, it’s the effort of organizing, the willingness to arrive, the dynamic that comes to life at the table, and all the possibilities which that engenders that give gravitas to what happens at the table.  But what would all that be like without a table?

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