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Your Partner in Understanding, Addressing and Resolving Workplace Problems

We help faculty and staff address and resolve workplace problems by providing confidential consultations as well as mediation services.

If you receive a paycheck from the University of Michigan and have a concern related to your work here, we will help you find appropriate:

  • answers
  • resources
  • resolution

Our services are:

  • available to faculty and staff
  • provided by professionally trained and experienced mediators
  • free of charge

What is mediation?

Mediation is an informal but structured process where people work together with the help of a mediator to prevent or resolve a misunderstanding or conflict. At Mediation Services, we provide mediation to help faculty and staff solve work-related problems.

What is the role of the mediator?

  • The mediator is a neutral facilitator. The mediator does not take sides, judge whether anyone is right or wrong or decide how to resolve the problem.
  • The mediator helps the participants to hear and understand each other, identify the real underlying issues and find ways to address those issues and craft a solution that meets everyone’s needs.
  • The mediator will help the parties prepare a written agreement if they want one.

How confidential is mediation?

  • Mediation Services keeps no name-based records of the mediation.
  • The mediator will keep all information discussed at the mediation confidential unless:
    • otherwise agreed by all of the participants, or
    • the mediator becomes aware that someone might be in physical danger, experiencing illegal harassment or engaging in serious criminal activity.
  • The parties are expected to keep the mediation conversation confidential unless they all agree otherwise.

Can someone be required to go to mediation?

Taking part in mediation at Mediation Services is strictly voluntary. Mediation may be suggested to staff or faculty as a way to resolve workplace problems. But no one can be required to go to mediation.

What are some advantages of mediation?

  • Honest communication resolves good-faith misunderstandings. Mediation gives people a safe setting in which to engage in clear, honest, respectful communication.
  • Difficult conversations, where emotions may run high, are often easier and more successful with a skilled, neutral mediator there to help.
  • The participants, not the mediator or anyone else, decide how best to solve the problem being discussed. They are therefore more likely to do whatever is agreed to.
  • Even if no agreement is reached, the parties usually gain a clearer understanding of each other and the issues. They often learn that their assumptions about the situation were wrong.

Why is mediation a good alternative to the grievance process?

Staff and faculty who use mediation to try to resolve disputes do not give up their right to use the grievance procedures available to them. They can begin the grievance process before or after mediation. Mediation is a good alternative to the grievance process in a number of ways:

  • Mediation can be used to address a broad range of issues that might or might not be appropriate for the grievance process.
  • Mediation is informal and off the record, while the grievance process is on the record.
  • Unlike the grievance process, mediation is a mutually voluntary process that any party can decline to participate in at any time.
  • Mediation is a collaborative process designed to allow the parties to seek common understanding and reach an agreement that meets everyone’s needs. The grievance process is not.
  • Since mediation is a non-adversarial process, it is especially useful in situations where the participants will continue to work together once it is over.

How do you know whether mediation is appropriate for your situation?

A mediator/consultant at Mediation Services will be glad to talk to you by phone or in person about whether mediation might be helpful for you. Mediation can be particularly effective at the early stages of a disagreement, helping to improve communication before concerns escalate. So the sooner you call us, the better.

Can inviting someone to mediation have undesirable consequences for you?

Not only does university policy prohibit retaliation against any person solely for requesting or participating in mediation, it encourages use of mediation.

How do you schedule mediation?

Please be sure to let Mediation Services know how you would like to be contacted, and whether or not it is okay to leave a message on an answering machine/voicemail, if applicable.

Once you decide you would like to use mediation, you may invite the other party to mediate. We will be glad to confidentially talk to the other party by phone or in person about mediation services. If all parties agree to mediate, we will schedule the mediation for a time that is convenient for everyone. The mediator will speak with each of the parties by phone or in person before the day of the mediation. The mediator will also give each party an agreement to mediate and review it with them to be sure everyone understands and agrees to it.


Before deciding to seek mediation, you may wish to undertake a consultation. A consultation is a confidential conversation, either by phone or in person, between a staff or faculty member and a mediator/consultant about how to handle a work-related concern.

Why request a consultation?

You might wish to request a consultation if you have a university work-related concern and want to privately explore alternatives for addressing the concern.

How confidential is it?

No name-based record of the consultation conversation is kept. You do not even have to give us your name. All information discussed at the consultation will be kept confidential unless:

  • you choose to tell others or direct the consultant to tell others, or
  • the consultant becomes aware that someone might be in physical danger, experiencing illegal harassment or engaging in serious criminal activity. In that case, the consultant will make every effort to keep you informed of any report they make and protect your privacy if at all possible.

What kinds of problems can a consultation help with?

Nearly any work-related concern can be discussed at a consultation. Typically, concerns involve matters such as differences or disagreements, poor communication, tension caused by the workload or work environment, unclear division of work responsibilities or disciplinary measures.

What happens during a consultation?

You describe your work situation and concern to the consultant. Then, together, you explore possible options for dealing with the problem. These options often include:

  • Strategies you can use at work to resolve the problem yourself
  • Getting help from other university resources, such as the Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office, the Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office, or your Human Resources representatives
  • Having the consultant obtain information or talk to someone for you
  • Taking part in mediation

Who decides what to do?

It is up to you, not the consultant/mediator, to decide what if any action to take to deal with the problem.

What is the best way to schedule a consultation?

Please make sure to let us know how you would like us to contact you, and whether or not it is okay for us to leave a message on your answering machine/voicemail, if applicable.