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  Shopping for a Mediator?  Some advice...
 Mediation can be a very effective way to resolve labour relations issues. If you are considering it for the first time, you are probably concerned about how it will work, how effective it will be and above all, who to call! The marketplace is full of mediators - how do you find the one(s) who will work best with you and your labour or management counterparts? If your mediator turns out to be unacceptable to you or the other party, it will likely be a long time before you try it again. Here is some advice for those of you who may be "mediator shopping".

Shop as you would for any product or service!

Compare and ask questions. You are in a position to be selective. Look for the same things your organization looks for in its suppliers: quality, service, reliability and value for your dollar. Remember...expensive doesn't always mean better. Ask prospective mediatiors about their:e m
Experience & background:

How have they acquired their skills? What is their area of expertise? What is their track record? How much experience do they have with your issues? What is their experience with the workforce - which industries, unions/employers and occupational groups have they dealt with? Where and in what context? ediators about their:

Approach & Style Is the mediator a peacemaker or an enforcer? Ask for an example of a difficult issue that s/he has dealt with and how it was resolved. Consider adaptability, bearing in mind that the mediator may have to deal with multiple issues and multiple players at the meeting.
Acceptability Is the mediator likely to be acceptable to both labour and management? Do they have a reputation for neutrality? How have they earned their reputation? Ask for labour and management references. Will they be able to build rapport and confidence with the labour and management reps in your organization?
Their Business Who is involved in the mediator's business? If the business employs a number of mediators, do you have a choice in who will do your case? How are mediators assigned? What is the relationship of the mediators to the business? How well does the operator know them?
Their Affiliations Does the mediator have any affiliations, employment or otherwise which could present a conflict of interest problem? Are you and your organization comfortable with these? Does their business act as a referral service for other businesses?  Are you OK with this?
Confidentiality How is it assured? Can the mediator be subpoenaed to give evidence at an arbitration hearing? What happens to the mediator's notes and other materials from the meeting? What records are kept at their office? Will you or your organization be used for advertising or promotional purposes?
Meeting Arrangements Who, when, where, what time and how much flexibility do you have? What kind of paperwork is involved? Are there any long-term commitments or retainers?
Costs Is there an hourly, daily or other rate? What about expenses - what do they charge for and how much will you have to pay?  How will you be invoiced? What if the meeting runs late? Are there any other or hidden expenses?
Customer Service What happens if you are not satisfied with the service that you receive? What will be done to resolve your complaint?
Ask for a meeting so that you can have an opportunity to meet the prospective mediator, ask questions and assess their suitability before making the decision to do business. You would not hire an employee without an interview or retain a contractor without some preliminary face-to-face discussions. This is no different. If you're not comfortable, take a pass on the person not the process!