Avoid ‘lock-down’

We seem to have got stuck. What do we do now?

It is a common experience for an institution to create a ‘lock-down’ if a dispute reaches the courts or an employment tribunal or is covered by the media, or perhaps if a complainant creates a website full of hostile comment.

All employees and especially senior managers are instructed not to answer emails, not to discuss the matter and to respond only through the institution’s solicitors.

On the face of it this is a sensible precaution. But it means that the dispute is likely to become even further prolonged and that legal costs will mount.

This is a situation in which an Early Neutral Assessor or a mediator can be helpful, by creating a ‘safe place’ in which to discuss the position and look for speedy resolutions in everyone’s interests.

Some typical causes of impasse:

  • Loss of trust
  • Allowing unresolved aspects of a complaint or grievance to pile up so that the complainant also begins to complain about the way the dispute is being handled and the dispute develops ‘layers’
  • Delay because noone knows what to do, or no-one feels able to take the initiative, and everyone freezes