Managers as Mediators
While mediation is part of a manager's role, it may not fit in the central job description but could be a sub-role to a larger task. That larger task, particularly in culture change, is our work with others to adapt, to learn new experience - gaining new perspectives - while moving them to a decision.
In this view, mediation that doesn't reinforce the gradual adaption of the new way of doing business doesn't resolve the issue but could tie-up the manager in endless discussions and even defeat the purpose of the change. It means recognizing that all change has losses and gains but that all interactions must reinforce that we’re changing.
I think it’s helpful to see that when we encounter new experiences, we look for alignment between them and previous like experiences. These mental maps tell us what to expect and how to act; in general, they make us feel secure and enable us to engage the environment.
However, when the experience doesn’t align with our mental maps our tendency can be to stall, wishing for “what used to be,” or acting out in ways that make it known we’re uncomfortable and want attention given to our suffering.
This is where managers can confuse the real role of mediation, thinking it their job to mollify a person’s concerns. The futility of the role is that we cannot align a person’s mental maps or create them. What is possible is mediating between the individual and their own mental maps-not between them and the system or even other people.
Here the manager understands the role of perspective and works with the individual to an eventual adaption of a new perspective and their creation of new mental maps that make it possible.
Questions or would like to explore these thoughts further? I coach leaders and managers for personal and professional development. You can schedule a free introduction at https://www.willsalyards.com/contact or call 916-235-3197. Will Salyards PhD.