Services - Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to any process or collection of processes established to resolve conflicts and disputes without a trial or violence. Conflict is a naturally occurring phenomenon found in most healthy, productive, and toxic environments. Conflict is defined as an incompatibility in interests, needs, or goals.

The term "ADR" is often used to refer to a broad category of processes such as negotiation, conciliation, mediation, settlement conferences, arbitration, consensus building, and community conferencing. ADR includes conflict management and prevention systems within an organization that can help people decide what dispute resolution process they want to use. Often, one or more ADR processes may be appropriate for resolving certain kinds of disputes.

We at McFarland can serve the needs of an individual, school, business, or government entity. We have the staff, access to ADR professionals and the resources to address your long and short term needs.

ADR and Conflict Resolution Processes

Conciliation is a process in which a neutral person functions as a "go between" in an attempt to resolve a dispute involving two or more people. The conciliator may have multiple private conversations with the people in dispute in hopes of identifying shared interests and reaching an agreement that meets the participants' needs and resolves their dispute. The conciliator does not generally bring the people in dispute together or create an opportunity for them to talk directly to each other. The conciliator must remain neutral and has no decision-making authority.

Mediation is a process in which one or two neutral mediators help people in a dispute to communicate with one another, understand each other, and if possible, reach agreements that satisfy the participants' needs. Mediators do not provide legal advice or recommend the terms of an agreement. Instead, the mediator helps people reach their own agreements, rebuild their relationships, and, if possible, find lasting solutions to their disputes. In mediation, people speak for themselves and make their own decisions. Participants in mediation may or may not be represented by counsel.

Arbitration is a quasi-judicial process in which people in a dispute present their views to one or more knowledgeable neutral people who decide how the dispute will be resolved. Arbitrators review evidence, hear arguments, and make decisions, often in the form of a monetary "arbitration award" paid by one person to the other. Arbitration is generally a binding process, which means that the participants agree up front to abide by the arbitrators' decision.

Consensus Building is a process in which a neutral person brings stakeholder groups and individuals together and facilitates their efforts to solve a problem or address a complex issue in a way that best meets the participants' needs. Consensus building resembles mediation in that the process is about people making their own decisions, opening lines of communication, and developing agreements that everyone can support. Consensus building, however, usually involves a much larger group of people than can be accommodated in mediation and is generally used to prevent or resolve disputes within an organization, related to public policy or complex issues affecting many people.

Take a Look at Your Needs

Dispute Resolution System, Mediation Services, Training?

The system in your organization for handling conflict when it occurs is called dispute system design which combines principals of organizational development and conflict resolution. The systematic resolution of conflict through a design system produces change and growth that help people and organizations thrive and prosper. A healthy workplace often reduces stress, absenteeism, fraud, abuse of property and industrial sabotage attempts.

Review the activities of your organization. Were there teamwork or personnel-related issues? How did they get resolved? How much of your energy, staff time and human capital were consumed with those problems? What was the result? These are just a few of the questions for your executive team to consider.

Conflict is best resolved early in its cycle and at the lowest possible level in an organization. Are your team leaders empowered to resolve conflicts? Do they have the appropriate skills to do so? Let us help you develop a conflict resolution system and or/provide immediate services for a short-term concern.

Organizational Culture and Your Customers

The culture of an organization is evidenced in many ways. What is the atmosphere of your organization for disputes and conflict? Does your corporate culture encourage employees to discuss issues and conflicts? Do managers have an open door policy? Do your clients, customers, and business partners view your organization as collaborative, goal focused, and result oriented? Why or why not?

An organization's culture is also evidenced in its documents. Now is the time to review standard contracts and handbooks. Is there dispute resolution language in those documents? Does that language reflect the culture and the values of your organization? If a dispute arises with your top client or customer do you really want a win/lose situation? We can help with this area.

McFarland Offers Solutions

If you need solutions to these questions, contact us.

Services and Offerings

  • Mediators on an ad hoc or requirements contract basis for a period of time
  • Organizational and Private Dispute Mediation Services
  • Multi-party Facilitation of Workplace Disputes
  • Design of Dispute Resolution Systems
  • Conflict Management in the Workplace (small and large numbers of employees)
  • Trainings: Mediation (basic and advanced); Respectful Workplace (harassment, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), office bullying)
  • Online Training or Webinars
  • Business-related Disputes
  • Collaborative Mediation for Schools, from Secondary to University Level
  • Conflict Prevention/Resolution: Adult and School Based for Students
  • Office Bullying
  • Cyber Bullying
  • Multi-party Public Disputes for city, counties, governments
  • Sexual Harassment and EEO Investigations and Reports
  • Arbitration

Who Are We? - Areas of Expertise

  • Staff Subject Matter Expertise in Construction Law, Contracts, EEO, Employment
  • Employee Assistance Programs; Counseling
  • Conflict within Schools (students; staff)
  • Use of WebEx and Microsoft® Live Meeting as Alternates to In-person Training and Presentations
  • Other McFarland services for your organization

Staff Resources and Qualifications

  • Federal Workplace Mediation Experience
  • Organizational Private and Group Mediation Experience
  • Skill-based Mediation Trained
  • Trained in Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws and Regulations
  • Diversity of Staff
  • Diversity of Subject Matter Expertise
  • Access to a nationwide cadre of mediators, arbitrators, and conflict design specialists
  • Washington DC Area Regionally Certified Mediators
  • Technical Writers

Useful Links and Other Resources