Something is trending and it is downhill. It appears that the overvaluation of "compromise, negotiation, fairness" in our politically correct society--an utterly destructive social force in many ways--has contributed to a belief among some supervisors that any protest or refusal by an employee to do his or her job, must somehow be understood and examined for its merits. It seems as though for many managers, a knee-jerk response is an "I-thou", "You're Ok-I'm Ok" attempt to negotiate with the employee in order to get the work done. May I ask a question? Whatever happened to telling employee to do things a certain way or else?
Sometimes--no always--if you're the boss, you're the boss. You should examine the nature of conflict with your employee before engaging in any kind of negotiation process. Get advice from a peer supervisor colleague if needed, but absolutely shy away from mediation services of any kind. That's off the table. I have seen supervisors do it, but it is a one-way ticket to relationship dysfunction. Never enter into mediating a conflict with an employee you supervise because it will elevate the employee bad behavior and make accepting change and direction from you completely optional.
Some supervisors feel hesitant about asserting themselves with employees because it feels awkward and antagonistic to their long-term and familiar relationship. They would like to avoid feeling as though they are “pulling rank.” They are unaware that their employee’s behavior has placed them in this position, so they struggle with a way to get the job done without upsetting their employee. You have a right to expect work duties to be performed in ways you judge effective. Although mediation is useful in workplace relationships, the natural imbalance of power between the supervisor and the employee can be harmed by mediation. This could send a message that makes changes optional for the supervised employee. Supervisor Tips and Skills Newsletter may help you tremendously.