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Informal Mediation

Employees have different backgrounds, experiences, and work styles, so it's natural that they aren’t always going to see eye-to-eye. Most of the time, employees can resolve conflicts on their own, or with the help of a supervisor. But, if conflict continues, it can be helpful to bring an impartial person into the conversation – a mediator.

HR’s informal, voluntary, and confidential mediation program, "Point of View," helps employees resolve workplace conflicts and strengthen workplace relationships. Informal mediation is really just a conversation. The mediator facilitates the conversation, making sure each employee has a chance to share his or her perspective. With the help of the mediators, employees brainstorm possible solutions, and if they make decisions about how to move forward, the mediators create a written summary. Informal mediation can help improve communication, clear up misunderstandings, and result in solutions that meet everyone’s needs.

If you are interested in learning more about "Point of View," contact us at (520) 626-0850 or pointofview@email.arizona.edu.

Key Elements of Informal Mediation 

  • University Mediators – All mediators are UA faculty, appointed professionals, or classified staff who have received mediation training.
  • Informal – Mediation is similar to a conversation. The mediators simply help the conversation stay civil and helps the participants craft a solution to their conflict.
  • Voluntary – No one can be compelled to participate in mediation or agree to a particular solution.
  • Impartial – Mediators are not judges or arbitrators who make decisions or recommendations. In informal mediation, people come up with their own solutions to resolve conflict.
  • Confidential – Confidentiality is maintained unless there is a threat of harm to self or others or allegations or discrimination.

What is Informal Mediation?

During informal mediation, an impartial mediator (i.e., someone with no stake in the issue) sits down with people experiencing conflict and helps them come up with solutions. With the help of the mediator, each person gets to share his or her “point of view” uninterrupted. The mediator doesn’t decide who is right or wrong; instead, the mediator helps people understand what’s behind the conflict and brainstorm options to solve it. If the participants are able to come up with their own solutions to the conflict, the mediator helps draft a written summary, a copy of which each participant receives.

The UA uses a co-mediation model, with a mediator from HR and a volunteer mediator from the campus community. The mediators reflect the diversity of the University, with mediators who are faculty, appointed professionals, and classified staff. All of the mediators have participated in mediation training.

Informal mediation is a voluntary process. For the mediation to take place, all employees must agree to participate. Supervisors can’t require their employees to participate in informal mediation.

If an employee is interested in informal mediation, he or she will speak to the Point of View Program Manager about the situation. If the situation is eligible for informal mediation, the Program Manager will contact the other employee(s) involved and ask if they are willing to participate. If everyone is willing to participate, the Program Manager will schedule the informal mediation and assign mediators.

Mediation is confidential, with a couple of exceptions. If an employee alleges that another University employee has discriminated against him or her, the mediators are required to report that information to the Office of Institutional Equity. Additionally, if a mediator believes there is the potential for harm to self or others, the mediator must report that information.

Before participating in informal mediation, employees must sign an Agreement to Participate in Informal Mediation. As part of this agreement, employees agree to maintain confidentiality of information shared during the mediation process.

Example issues that are eligible for mediation

  • Disagreements have arisen between project team members due to differing work styles.
  • An employee would like a flexible work schedule, but his supervisor has not been open to the idea.
  • A supervisor values a long-term employee’s work, but is having a difficult time getting the employee’s buy-in regarding organizational changes.
  • Two faculty members are no longer speaking because of conflict over a potential merger.
  • Two employees were friends, but things have become tense since once became the other’s supervisor.

Example issues not eligible for mediation

  • Workplace Violence
  • Discrimination Complaints
  • Involuntary Terminations
  • Compensation
  • Promotion and Tenure
  • Active lawsuits or complaints against the University.
  • Complaints filed with the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (CAFT) or under UHAP 6.02 or the Staff Dispute Resolution Procedure.

The above lists are not exclusive. Please consult the "Point of View" Program Manager at (520) 626-0850 or pointofview@email.arizona.edu to determine if informal mediation is an option.

Download our brochure here.

For more information, please consult our frequently asked questions.


Mediators

  • Lissette Calderón, Academic Affairs Coordinator, College of Law
  • Celina Ramirez, Associate Director, Disability Resource Center
  • Jeanne Davenport, Program Coordinator, Steward Observatory
  • Sumayya Granger, Assistant Director of Academic Support, Center for English as a Second Language
  • Bruce Grissom, Administrative Manager, SAEM/AISS
  • Pam Jones, Director, Human Resources at University of Arizona Health Sciences
  • Josie Kelly, Consultant HR Organizational, Human Resources
  • Pila Martinez, Senior Director, University Relations – Communications
  • Millay McAndrew, Senior Consultant, Compliance, Office of Institutional Equity
  • Martin McColl, Senior Staff Engineer, Steward Observatory
  • Mark Trommer, Senior Consultant, Organizational, Human Resources

Additional Resources

In addition to Point of View, HR’s informal mediation program, there are a number of University resources available to help employees experiencing conflict. For more information, please contact the specific office listed below.

HR Employee and Career Advising

(520) 621-3662

The HR Employee and Career Advising Team provides information and guidance on UA policies, practices, and workplace issues. Our goal is to help UA employees to make balanced and informed decisions regarding work issues and career plans.

HR Life & Work Connections, Employee Assistance Service

(520) 621-2493

Employee Assistance Service seeks to foster growth, resiliency, and effectiveness in the individual and in the workplace by providing services that help the “whole person.” Services are free, voluntary, and confidential and are available to all benefits-eligible UA employees as well as departments or workgroups.

HR Center for Professional Development

(520) 626-0159

HR offers a variety of professional development courses designed specifically to enhance employee skills and competencies, including courses on communication and conflict resolution.

Ombuds Program

(520) 626-5589

The University of Arizona Ombuds Program provides an informal means of problem resolution if you have a University-related concern, conflict, or dispute. An Ombuds is not empowered to change a decision, but through intervention and clarification of matters, information may emerge to assist in the resolution of the problem.

Office of the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs

(520) 626-0202

The Office of the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs oversees academic appointments, tenure, promotion and other faculty affairs. The Associate Provost works closely with Human Resources and the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Support to assess the institutional climate and identify emerging resource and leadership issues.


For more information about mediation and conflict resolution, we recommend the following articles and books:

Articles

In Praise of Mediation: Keeping the Peace in the Workplace

Workplace Mediation: Pros and Cons

Books

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Roger Fisher, William L. Ury and Bruce Patton

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, Marshall Rosenberg and Arun Gandhi

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

The Essential Guide to Workplace Mediation and Conflict Resolution: Rebuilding Working Relationships, Nora Doherty and Marcelas Guyler