Jon Aikman's Blog

Thoughts on Mediation and Project Management

  • I am often asked why I have “changed career” and become a Mediator after spending so much time as a Construction Project Manager. Many people see the two roles as so completely different that they are confused about why I should make such a seemingly radical change of direction. I on the other hand am confused about why they are confused! To me the one role compliments the other. Being a Project Manager has prepared me to be a Mediator and Mediation helps me to be a better Project Manager.

    Construction requires co-operation, co-ordination and an attitude of “getting on with things” to be successful. Programmes and expectations need to be continuously adapted to react to the actions of others and the environment. If eveyone on construction projects continued on their own private plan of action without regard to what others are doing the whole process would grind to a halt. Generally this process of give-and-take, adaption and team work goes on unnoticed. When the process of communication is not working the Project Manager needs to encourage the team work and co-ordination to continue. This is mediation in action, without anyone recognising that it is mediation. It is my experience of being involved in this process of constant mediation that I bring to my role as an Accredited Mediator.

    As a mediator I can now recognise this process of constant mediation in action and the importance of it to the success of projects and business in general. Now as a Project Manager I can use my Accredited Mediator skills in the work place as a powerful dispute avoidance tool.

    In answer to the question “Mediator or Project Manager?” – both and feel I have more to offer because of that.

     

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  • Since I became accredited as a mediator I have realised that becoming a professional mediator didn’t require me to learn any new skills. I only needed to learn how to use existing skills in a more structured and deliberate way. Mediation happens all the time in business without always being obviously mediation. As a Project Manager I have always applied mediation skills to remove friction between members of the project team so that the project runs smoothly, to resolve situations that threaten to disturb a project outcome or to prevent potential disputes from happening. Before I became a Mediator I didn’t recognise what I had been doing as “mediation”. Mediation (and mediators) needn’t be seen as something to be kept in a box until all else fails. Mediation is part of a continuum of business skills that can be applied at all levels of conflict management, dispute avoidance and dispute resolution. If you think your project or organisation could benefit from some reduction in friction or dispute avoidance I would be very happy to discuss how early intervention mediation may be suitable.

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