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Frequently Asked Questions

About CMP

The CMP head office is based on a small farm, just outside Bassingbourn in Hertfordshire, a few miles south of Cambridge. Based here is our internal team, led by our Managing Director Arran Heal, consisting of our operations team who administer our services and training, alongside our Sales, Marketing and Finance Staff. Outside of the office, we employ over 70 freelance practitioners, based in a variety of locations across the EMEA. Each has a minimum of 5 years’ experience in their given field, and work on behalf of CMP to deliver our Investigations, Mediations, training courses and other conflict management services.

Any business… typically businesses with more than 200 employees, although we have worked with sole traders during open course training, and with partnerships/ small businesses who are in conflict. Our clients are from all sectors including healthcare, government departments, the MOD, education, charities, international organisations, pharmaceutical companies, transport providers, and a range of other companies in the private sector.

The majority of the work we provide is delivered within the UK. However, we do travel to support international organisations, within Europe and beyond. Individuals have also travelled to us from across the globe, in order to attend our public training courses.

Our ambition is to create workplaces where people can really be authentic, bringing their ‘whole self’ to work, without the fear of conflict.

We call these ‘clear air’ workplaces in which staff are engaged, productive and innovative, without fearing reprisal. All of our work is based on the belief that interactive and intelligent conversations are the foundation of an open, trusting and productive workplace culture.

All of us are different in our backgrounds, personalities and outlook. This has the potential to cause misunderstandings and complaints at work. We aim to build trust within organisations, and train staff to have intelligent conversations, enabling the differences between us to become the source of productivity, new insights, solutions and innovation.

Our registered company name is Conflict Management Plus Limited. In 2009 we re-branded to CMP Resolutions, and in 2018 we dropped resolutions, so today, we just go by CMP.

Bullying

Although bullying currently has no legal definition, bullying may be characterised as:
Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.

Although there is no legal definition of bullying, employers have a duty of care for all their employees to prevent bullying behaviours. The only legal claim in relation to bullying that can be made is that of constructive dismissal. In such cases, the recipient must resign from their post and claim for constructive dismissal. This would be upheld if the employer has fundamentally breached the employment contract through making the ongoing position untenable.

Many organisations express a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy to bullying, although it is certainly a positive ambition to strive for a workplace where bullying does not happen, unfortunately, in practice, such policies are not effective. Such practices can make bullied employees less likely to speak up, and those who carry out the unwanted behaviours may change tactics to avoid being caught out.

There are several positive steps that an organisation can take in order to prevent and tackle bullying:
• Ensure all staff members know what is expected of them, through effective policies, and training. Management should be trained to be able to effectively co-ordinate their teams, but be clear as to what constitutes unacceptable behaviour.
• Avoid labelling people as ‘bullies’ and rather defining their specific behaviours as unacceptable.
• Provide dedicated staff members as the first port of call, who can be approached by employees who feel they are being treated unfairly.
• Offer and promote early resolution methods such as mediation, so that employees are aware of and feel as if there is a means by which their situation can be improved.

Conflict

Avoiding conflict at work is a mistake, though its most negative form should be avoided, if effectively managed, we can harness the differences between us to build a more creative and productive working environment.

Effective management of conflict can avoid its negative, unwanted impacts upon the workforce. When conflict reaches an unmanageable level, staff involved often become increasingly stressed, and may lack motivation. Absence rates can subsequently rise and unproductive behaviours can develop, including arguments, confrontation or avoiding communication.

Within the workplace staff will mix with people from a range of different backgrounds, who have contrasting beliefs, values and behaviours, depending on their life experiences, personality traits and the environment within which they are raised.

One’s own beliefs, values and needs are displayed to others through the way in which they behave. Conflict arises when other people are ‘not like me’. When differing behaviours are seen, they are analysed against one’s own view of the world, and conclusions are drawn about that person’s value, worth and personality.

Conflict arises when a person is introduced to another who is in potential opposition in terms of their behaviours, beliefs and values.

There are a variety of ways to manage conflict, depending on the level of the dispute. A well-trained manager may often be capable of calming low-level disputes with a quiet discussion. To prevent cases from escalating to the level where a formal process is required, early intervention through mediation can be highly effective. However, there are always going to be situations where conflict escalates beyond a resolvable level, which require formal investigation. In such cases, to minimise costs, disruption and emotional impacts on all involved a well-trained investigator is essential.
At CMP, we believe that in order unhelpful conflict can be avoided by developing a culture of intelligent conversations. We call this Conversational Intelligence.

When we hear the word ‘conflict’ it generally has negative connotations and is thought of something that should be tackled or perhaps even avoided at all costs. Although in some forms, conflict can be negative and have detrimental effects on productivity and relationships in the workplace, effectively engaging in conflict can have several positive impacts, including:

• Conflict builds awareness of problems that may exist
• Challenging others opinions and practices can lead to improvements and changes to processes that may have become dated
• Conflict generates creativity, in order to find the best possible outcomes for those involved
• Conflict raises awareness of what is important for each individual
• Effective management of conflict improves self-esteem, motivation and engagement for the staff members involved
• Dealing with conflict can be challenging, and is, therefore, a developmental experience for those who are involved in it

Harassment

Person A harasses another (person B) if A engages in unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic. (The protected characteristics are: maternity/paternity, age, disability, sexual preference, race, gender, sexual preference, civil partnership, religion/belief, and gender reassignment)

The conduct must have the purpose or effect of violating person B’s dignity or creating an intimidating/hostile/degrading/humiliating/offensive environment for person B.

There are 3 key differences between bullying and harassment. Firstly, harassment must be related to a protected characteristic. Secondly, bullying differs from harassment in that it includes a misuse or abuse of power. Whilst claims of harassment can be taken to an employment tribunal, those of a bullying nature cannot.

Sexual harassment is behaviour of a sexual nature, that falls under the definition of harassment. It can therefore be defined as:

An unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature, which has the purpose or effect of violating the recipient’s dignity, or creating an intimidating/hostile/degrading/humiliating/offensive environment.

Harassment is defined as unwanted conduct against a protected characteristic, so can occur in a wide variety of forms. Examples of unwanted conduct may include spoken or written words/abuse, offensive emails, physical gestures or jokes.

The protected characteristics are: age, disability, maternity/paternity, sexual preference, race, gender, religion/ belief, and gender reassignment, so the behaviour must be connected to one of these.

Yes, Harassment is unlawful under the equality act 2010.

Yes, harassment is a form of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

Harassment can be prevented in the workplace through a variety of means. It is important to ensure that all staff members are aware of what behaviours are and are not successful. Within some workplaces, ensuring that staff have access to the relevant policies may be sufficient. However, in some instances, a more formal training provision may be needed. At CMP we offer a range of training courses to help prevent harassment within the workplace. These include awareness-raising programmes, and more formal training to train specific staff members to act as advisors and take action when unwanted behaviours do occur.

Investigation

When handled badly or weakly, workplace complaints are a lose-lose situation. They drain management time, potentially for months on end, and cause stress and disruption for all levels of staff involved. When faced with difficult or sensitive problems, organisations can instinctively look to hide problems away and find patch-up solutions to contain such situations. Although this may seem like a ‘free’ option, this approach can drain management time and attention, while posing a great threat to organisational reputation and the everyday working environment.

A properly conducted workplace investigation can, therefore, save such management time, stress and disruption. By employing someone specifically trained who has the time to allocate specifically to the process, internal stress and disruption are also minimised.

An investigation has the purpose of establishing fact. In many cases, it is crucial to establish whether an alleged behaviour actually happened, such that the correct disciplinary procedures can be put in place, and further actions can be taken to prevent such events happening again.

Carrying out a thorough investigation also reduces the liability of the company as a result of such damaging behaviours. It also ensures that employees feel that their concerns are taking seriously, also acting as a deterrent mechanism for further damaging behaviours.

A workplace investigation should be carried out by at the very least a person who has undergone formal investigation training. Mishandling investigations can have devastating consequences to company performance, the staff involved and financial costs.

At CMP we offer a range of investigation training courses to equip or upskill your internal investigators. We also offer outsourced investigations, conducted by practitioners with a minimum of 5 years’ experience, which we would always recommend for serious and complex cases.

An investigation should be conducted promptly, as soon as possible in order to minimise disruption to the organisation and all parties involved. In practice, it will likely take time to arrange interviews with all parties involved, and there are minimum notice periods for certain aspects of the process.

At CMP, we will assign an investigator to the case within 1 working day of being assigned and expect the majority of cases to be completed within 30 working days of commencing.

A typical workplace investigation has a specific structure, consisting of several key stages. After a referral is made to CMP for an Investigation case, an Investigator will be appointed within 1 working day, after which you can expect the following sequence of events to occur:

Firstly, the investigator will arrange for a scoping meeting with the person within your organisation who commissioned the case. Following this a final purchase agreement will be produced, outlining the total costs, and the terms of reference will also be written and agreed.

Following the initial meeting, the investigator will prepare for and schedule interviews with all selected parties. The investigator will conduct a thorough interview to obtain all evidence needed to obtain a full outline of the complaint, and the response.

The investigator will then prepare for and interview any witnesses as identified as relevant to the investigation through the initial meeting and interviews. The investigator will also obtain any relevant supplementary information such as email threads, meeting minutes and attendance records.

Following each interview, the investigator will type up summary notes of each session, which will then be sent to the interviewed parties, allowing for the opportunity to make any amendments/ additions as deemed appropriate.

Next, the investigator will carefully analyse all obtained evidence, and produce a written report of the full investigation. This report will be quality assured by our expert administrative team, before its final submission to your organisation’s referring manager.

Once the investigation is complete, the investigator will provide a comprehensive written report, summarising and evaluating all the evidence that has been considered. Based on the evidence, a decision will be made as to whether the alleged complaint can be said to have happened.

If there is no evidence to uphold the complaint, then the disciplinary/ grievance procedure should be halted and no further action taken. (Mediation can be useful at this point, as if the parties are to continue to work together, then the relationship may need to be rebuilt.)

If there is sufficient evidence to support the complaint, then further action will need to be taken in accordance with company policy. This may take place in a number of forms, such as a disciplinary hearing, or employment tribunal. The employer may decide that the outcome is indicative of a wider organisational problem that needs to be tackled, so may decide to invest in staff training to prevent further issues in the future.

The cost of a workplace investigation greatly varies, depending on the complexity of the case and the number of parties involved. What we refer to as an ‘Average case’, involving 1 complainant, 1 respondent and 4 witnesses, which has an average duration of 9 billable days. Our day rate varies depending on whether you outsource a one-off case to us, or take out a contract. We also offer discounts to charities and members of certain professional associations.

The length of an investigation greatly varies depending on the nature of the complaint, and the number of complainants, respondents and witnesses involved.

At CMP, we consider an ‘average case’ to be one involving 1 complainant, 1 respondent and 4 witnesses. Such a case will typically have a total scope of 9 billable days.

This includes all administration, preparing for/conducting/writing-up interviews, evidence analysis, report writing and a final briefing. For all cases we advise that the time taken between initial referral and the report submission be no more than 30 working days. (This will vary depending on the complexity of the case, and in rare circumstances, may be in excess.)

In short, no, CMP investigations are not legally privileged.

Some law firms may offer legal privilege as part of their investigations, however, at an employment tribunal, a judge is within their rights to waive such privilege. Our investigations are completed with privacy, confidentiality and contractual clauses, and such measures mean protection can be provided without the need for privilege.

During an investigation, the process, all written documents and all discussions will be kept fully confidential. The investigator will not discuss any details of the investigation with anyone outside of the investigative process.

Before commencing the interviews, the parties must confirm that they agree not to share anything that has been discussed within the session. The investigator will produce typed, summary notes, which will then be sent only to the party who was present within the interview to make any amendments/ additions that they so wish.

Following this, a written report will be produced and sent for the attention of the investigation commissioner. This will have been quality assured by one of CMP’s administrative team prior to being sent.

Although all discussions and documentation will be kept confidential during the investigative process, such evidence may be presented at a subsequent tribunal and may need to be shared if any laws have been seen to be broken.

Mediation

Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which is used as a means of preventing a misunderstanding from escalating to a level where it needs to be dealt with through a formal complaints system.

Studies suggest that an average internal investigation can equate to a cost of around £40,000, based on the number of working days lost for all those involved. Not only does this include the staff members who require working hours dedicated to the investigation, but also time lost due to sick leave and disruption to all parties involved in the process.

Mediation carries a greatly reduced financial cost at a fraction of the price and enables the conflict to be dealt with at an early stage, to quickly minimise further disruption within the workplace. Mediation has a win/win outcome, in that the process strives to find workable solutions to the issue that have a benefit to all those involved. Participants have the opportunity to voice their concerns and feelings in a safe environment, enabling them to feel heard, recognised and empathised with by both the mediator and working colleague(s).

Mediation has a very high success rate, and this enables the involved parties to continue working together, rather than restructuring your teams. The staff members carrying out the mediation also demonstrate transferable communication skills which can be of benefit for almost any workplace interaction.

In the rare instances where a mediation is not successful, the most common reasons tend to be:

-A lack of commitment to fully engage and make the effort to build success through the mediation process.
-When the mediation takes place too late when the conflict has escalated too far.
-When parties are concerned that the mediator is not impartial, and is favouring the other person(s)
-If parties do not trust that the process will be kept entirely confidential.

Working with an external mediator, provided by CMP ensures the quickest possible response, enabling conflict to be dealt with at an early stage, thanks to our large pool of workplace mediators. The provision of a person external to the company ensures that parties can be fully confident to express their views without fear of repercussions, generate the highest level of trust, that the process is a confidential one.

At CMP we only provide work commissioned by organisations. On that basis, the organisation which you work for will be invoiced for the cost of the mediation.

Mediation is a complex process, and potentially a very sensitive process for the parties who are involved. The likelihood of success is greatly determined by the personal attributes, skills and experiences of the mediator. When selecting a person to conduct a workplace mediation, we believe that the following characteristics are largely important (many of which can be further developed through training):

-Excellent listening skills: being patient, attentive and understanding of what other people say
-Being non-judgemental: so not becoming drawn in and keeping own opinions private
-Being Open-minded: in order to respond constructively to a wide variety of people, ideas and thinking styles
-A self-awareness of their own thinking style and the impact it may have on others
-A self-awareness of own thoughts and feelings about conflict, own responses to conflict
-Ability to make choices during the mediation about how to respond
-Ability to take responsibility for own actions and words
-Capability to stay calm and respond positively, without blame to difficult behaviour
-Ability to think creatively
-Ability to respond constructively to people’s feelings including anger and distress
-A positive understanding of issues surrounding diversity and dignity at work
-Ability to work confidentially and resist pressures from the organisation/ others to disclose information
-An awareness of the impact one’s own social identity may have on perceptions of impartiality
-Good organisation and administrative skills

In theory, anyone. There are no minimum standards for practicing as a mediator in the UK, however at CMP, we would always advice some level of formal training. There are no entry requirements for our Mediation training courses. When recruiting the practitioners that provide our own Mediation services, we ask for a minimum of 5 years’ experience of carrying out mediations within the workplace.

There are a number of situations in which we would recommend using mediation. These include:

– To solve conflict resulting from structural problems in an organisation
– As a ‘box-ticking’ exercise, i.e. to prove that as an organisation, you have taken action to solve a problem.
– As a method to ensure employees are following managerial instructions.
– As a ‘softer’ disciplinary procedure for a staff member who is too important to lose.
– In cases where the Mediation may be a danger to a person’s mental health.
– For cases involving clear victimisation/ discrimination.

Workplace mediation is best used for cases where a breakdown in the working relationship has occurred as the result of a conflict. This can include a wide range of issues, and mediation is most effective when undertaken at an early stage of the conflict. Typically the following elements need to be present in order for mediation to be an appropriate (and effective) option:

• Your organisation has a desire to support the individuals in resolving their dispute
• The parties also have a desire or need to improve their working relationship
• The issues surrounding the case are within the parties’ control to resolve
• There are no formal processes currently taking place (e.g. Investigation)
• The parties are in good health and fit to mediate
• The mediation is not to be used as a process to punish or sanction unwanted behaviours.

At CMP, we provide our services and training in the Interactive Model of Mediation. Unlike other models of mediation which are simply outcome focussed, our interactive model aims to rebuild the working relationship through developing awareness and understanding of each party’s underlying needs.

We believe that conflict typically results from a combination of a specifically identified problem, underpinned by differences in personality, beliefs and values. During our mediation sessions the mediator will engage with conflicting parties at three essential levels:

1) The content: What do the parties think the dispute is about?
2) The interaction: How are the parties feeling, and behaving towards each other and the organisation?
3) The process: What do the parties think they need to do in order for a successful outcome?

A successful mediation tends to be defined as one where an agreement is made in terms of how the parties can change their behaviours and improve their working relationship moving forward. At CMP, we also believe that in order for a truly successful mediation, a change in thinking must also occur, in the form of a heightened understanding of the other party(s) needs. Success will also depend on the views of the parties, sometimes getting together to talk about issues can be considered a success in itself.

Unfortunately, there are times where full agreements are not reached following the mediation process. Even if this is the case, it will still most likely have helped settle some of the issues involved within the dispute. Using mediation does not take away any right to subsequently use an alternative process. However, it is crucial to remember, than all discussions during the mediation must be kept confidential and cannot be used as evidence in any subsequent formal action.

The Mediator will first meet individually with each person involved. This is a private and confidential meeting for them each to explain their situation, what they want to gain through mediation and to confirm their consent to proceed.

Then, so long as all parties consent, the same mediator will meet with both/ all parties, in the joint mediation session. Each person will be given some individual, personal time to speak, while the other person(s) listen. The mediator will take note of each individual issue raised and facilitate an open discussion about each of these. During which the mediator guides the process and encourages deeper understanding through facilitating exploration of each person’s underlying needs. The mediator will then guide the participants into forming agreements as to what will happen in future, before drawing the session to a close.

A second joint session may follow at a later date, to provide a further opportunity to discuss the issues, and assess how successful the agreements have been.

Mediation is a completely voluntary process, both (or all) parties must consent to participate prior to the process beginning. Few people ‘want’ to come to mediation, but most are glad they did. So even though parties may be concerned that it isn’t going to work, or are unclear why they should engage with mediation, it well worth their while to give it a go. Participants also have the right to call a temporary halt or withdraw at any time.

In order for parties to make the most of their mediation sessions, it is helpful for all participants to agree that they will:
-Be open: about what is bothering them, and what they need to change
-Be specific: about exactly what they want to happen, what they can do and what other people can do in order to improve the situation.
-Be focussed: talk about one’s own wants and needs, rather than giving opinions about the other person.
-Listen: to what other people involved have to say
-Work with the mediator, and try to support them as they will always have the longer-term outcome in mind.

At CMP, our best practice recommendation for mediation between 2 parties is a total of 2 billable days work. We can provide a shorter service, and group mediations usually last longer. Our pricing structure varies slightly depending on whether we are commissioned for a one-off case, or as part of a larger contract of work. We also offer discounts to certain professional organisations and charities.

Part of the mediator’s role is to help the parties identify their needs. A need underlies one’s interests, i.e. what they are concerned about, what the current environment is not providing, and what they would ideally like to happen within the workplace environment.

Our behaviours are the way in which we display our needs to others. When we encounter behaviours that are different from ours and do not fall in line with our own beliefs and values, conflict can arise.

It is the mediator’s job to help each party identify their unmet needs and understand their own and colleague(s) reactions to such needs. In doing so, the mediator can facilitate a discussion which ensures agreements can be formed whereby each person can get their needs met.

There are no specific preparatory tasks that need to be completed prior to attending a mediation session. However, we would suggest it may be worthwhile to think about a few things prior to entering the process:

-Think about what is really important to you, that you want to achieve through Mediation.
-Be creative: think of as many ways/ ideas possible to achieve your goals.
-Be prepared to listen to other people’s points of view.
-Be specific in terms of what you ask for

There are no minimum requirements/ qualifications needed in order to practice Mediation within the UK. However, we strongly advise that practising mediators undergo formal training, in order for the process to be beneficial to those involved.

At CMP while we offer a range of training courses on mediation skills, we would always advocate that to build the skills required for mediating challenging disputes at work, you should complete our 6-day Professional Workplace Mediator training course.

Any of the professional bodies for mediation (the CMC or College of Mediators) requires this as a minimum amount of training as part of their membership application process.

In order to work as a Mediator for CMP, we require a minimum of at least 5 years’ experience in conducting workplace Mediations.

Yes, mediation has a very high success rate. Last year, 95% of mediations carried out by CMP reached agreement.

No. Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process, where the participants make decisions in order to resolve the disagreement. The mediator is impartial, so supports all participants equally. Arbitration differs in the sense that the third party is asked to make a decision on the dispute. The two sides each present evidence, and the arbitrator makes a decision which they have agreed in advance to abide by.

No, Mediation is a non-legal process, and parties are not legally bound to working to any agreements made.

Everyone involved in mediation must keep all information confidential not only during the process but also afterwards. This includes the parties, mediator and any representatives who may also attend. Discussions and any information provided are treated as confidential by the mediator. This includes agreements, the mediator may feedback to your company that an agreement has been reached but cannot provide any details of what the agreement was.

The only exceptions are cases when there is evidence that a law may have been broken, or that someone is in danger.

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