Department of the Navy

Mediator Certification Program

Mediator Certification Process:
Workplace Disputes

The Department of the Navy's Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy provides “that ADR techniques shall be used as an alternative to litigation or formal administrative procedures to the maximum extent practicable.” The goal is to resolve disputes and conflicts at the earliest stage feasible, by the fastest and least expensive method possible, and at the lowest possible organizational level.         

The Mediator Certification Program ensures that all DON employees and managers have access to well-trained neutrals at little or no cost for ADR services. Mediation, as part of the DON's Alternative Dispute Resolution Program, promotes principles and practices that will facilitate communication and maintain or improve working relationships. Using mediation to resolve workplace differences demonstrates a commitment to a positive approach and joint ownership of concerns and solutions. The mediation process allows participants the opportunity to resolve their differences quickly, less formally and with more efficient use of resources than traditional dispute mechanisms such as litigation.

The mediation process uses a neutral third person to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more people. It helps disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement by providing a confidential, informal, private, non-adjudicative and non-adversarial process. Unlike an arbitrator, the mediator does not make decisions or force a decision on any party to the dispute. Instead, the mediator assists the participants with identifying issues, fostering joint problem solving, and exploring settlement opportunities in a neutral environment.

The DON Mediator Certification Program provides DON employees, supervisors, and managers with no cost (unless travel expenses are necessary) access to an alternative method of resolving workplace disputes. Department of the Navy civilian employees and uniformed members of the Navy and Marine Corps wishing to apply to become DON Certified Mediators must meet high standards of competence and ethics.

The Department of the Navy encourages the practice of solo mediation as more cost effective and beneficial to the further development of the mediator’s skills.

Ideally, a mediator should possess the following qualities:        

      • Respect and adherence to confidentiality 
      • Abiliy to allow others to develop their own solutions 
      • Fairness 
      • Patience                
      •  Honesty   
      • Trustworthiness
      • Credibility
      • Active listening skills
      • Neutrality
      • Creativity
      • Good communication skills
      • Empathy
      • Impartiality
      • Non-judgmental 
      • Professional demeanor 
      • Problem solving skills
      • Flexibility
      • Ability to deal with difficult people in stressful situations
      • Ability to deal with change
      • Ability to accept feedback and incorporate new information  


Application Process:
DON Civilian employees and uniformed members interested in applying for the DON Certified Mediator Program for Workplace Disputes must have completed Tier I and Tier II (see below) training in coordination with their HRSC ADR Coordinator. The DON ADR Program provides Tier I and Tier II training periodically at locations throughout the United States. In addition, commercial vendors provide this training throughout the country, and HRSC ADR Coordinators will generally know of local providers in their region. Prior to sending students to commercially provided training, HRSC ADR Coordinators, in consultation with the Workplace ADR Program Manager, should review the training to ensure compatibility with the Navy’s facilitative mediation model.  
Tier I and Tier II training provided by the DON ADR Program requires an application, and supervisory certification and approval.         
Upon completion of the training at Tier I and II, candidates may submit an application to the DON Workplace ADR Program through their Regional ADR Coordinator when they apply for Navy Model Refresher Training and Tier III screening and evaluation.  
The DON Mediator Certification Program:
The DON Mediator Certification Program consists of four (4) tiers:
Tier I - Introduction to Mediation Skills
Tier II - Advanced Mediation Skills
Tier III - Screening and Evaluation (Mediator Application submitted)
Tier IV - Three Co-Mediations and Coaching
Completing the required training does not ensure certification. Candidates must affirmatively demonstrate in Tiers III and IV that they have learned the skills, ethics and techniques required to participate effectively in a high quality mediation program. Accordingly, the candidate must complete all tiers in sequential order, and then submit the supporting documents (course completion certificates, co-mediation evaluations, the application, etc.) to the Regional ADR Coordinator. The Regional ADR Coordinator will review the package for completeness and forward it to the Workplace ADR Program Manager for consideration. The Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Civilian Human Resources) signs all final certification documents for mediators in the program.
Training Description:
The following is a description of the basic components of mediation skills training provided by ADR Program and vendors approved by the Assistant General Counsel (ADR).        
Tier I: Introduction to Mediation Skills
Description: (Minimum 20 hours of training) This comprehensive introductory course teaches basic facilitative mediation skills designed for the novice in dispute resolution. The course includes an introduction to conflict, an overview of the principles and practices of mediation, and training in the stages of a mediation (the opening statement, joint discussion, caucuses, building the agreement, writing the agreement, and the closing statement). The introductory course has a special emphasis on mediating workplace disputes, and includes participation in mediation role-plays, dealing with difficult people, handling bias, developing communication skills, creative problem-solving, and ethical standards for mediators. The combination of theoretical and experiential techniques provides the participants with a thorough introduction to skills necessary for effective mediation. Mediator-Candidates must keep in mind that they will learn the specifics of the Navy Model in their 16-hour Refresher Training taken prior to Tier III.             
Tier II: Advanced Mediation Skills
Description (Minimum 16 hours advanced training with an emphasis in role play) Tier II reinforces the skills, strategies, and techniques learned in the Tier I training. Advanced mediation training provides critical experiential learning that integrates theory with practice in a supervised setting. Lecture, simulation, exercises, and evaluation/feedback are included. This training provides the Mediator-Candidate the opportunity to:
Participate in a minimum of three simulated mediations and serve as mediator in at least one role-play. They receive evaluation by Professional Mediators who oversee the simulation, complete observation sheets outlining the skills required of the Mediator-Candidate (e.g., maintaining neutrality, active listening, effective questioning, reframing, summarizing, and negotiating techniques), discuss ethical behavior, and provide individualized feedback to the Mediator-Candidate.
Review essential points/skills for successful mediation and perform exercises in advanced mediation skills.
Develop and sharpen effective agreement-writing skills.
Tier III: Screening and Evaluation
Description: (Approximately one hour role play conducted by the Mediator-Candidate). Tier III evaluates the Mediator-Candidate’s skill to mediate a workplace dispute. Each Mediator-Candidate must answer three questions following the role-play. Specifically, what did s/he do well, what would s/he do differently and does s/he want to be a mediator? The Mediator-Candidate receives intense feedback on areas needing improvement as well as acknowledgement of areas of successful performance. See MEDIATORScreening.doc. Prior to participating in Tier III, each candidate participates in a 16-hour refresher program that includes the specifics of the Navy’s facilitative model of mediation, along with some practice role-plays.
Tier IV: Co-Mediations and Coaching
The final step of the initial certification process provides the Mediator-Candidate with multiple opportunities to mediate actual Navy disputes under the supervision of a Professional Mentor-Mediator. Each Mediator-Candidate will conduct three (3) co-mediations with extensive feedback and coaching from a Professional Mentor-Mediator. Each co-mediation session includes a meeting before the start of the process to determine what skills and practices the Mediator-Candidate will work to improve, the opportunity to de-brief the case, receive feedback, and accept specific constructive suggestions for improvement. See CO-MEDIATIONEVALUATIONFORM9503.doc.                 

                After successful completion of three co-mediations, the Mediator-Candidate may submit any additional application information to his/her HRSC ADR Coordinator, who will forward application package and evidence of successful completion of Tiers I-IV to the DON Workplace ADR Program Manager for consideration to become a Department of Navy Certified Mediator.

In order to maintain certification, Mediators must conduct a minimum of five (5) solo mediations or 10 co-mediations (2 co-mediations equal 1 solo mediation) within the time of their designated certification period. Certified mediators must also demonstrate completion of 16 hours of advanced mediation skills training during the certification period. All DON Certified Mediators are expected to complete ADA/Rehab Act Mediation Training and Ethics training prior to recertification. Courses taken at the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) or Federal Dispute Resolution (FDR) Conferences, local Mediation Centers as well as training provided by the DON ADR Program generally meet these continuing education requirements. The Workplace ADR Program Manager may be consulted regarding the appropriateness of specific courses. The DON ADR program offers continuing education and training to Navy Certified Mediators on a regular basis at locations throughout the country.
How to Get Started
If you think you are willing to make the commitment of time and effort to become a DON Certified Mediator, contact the ADR Center of Excellence, who can help you get started. Supervisor approval is necessary for participation in the Mediator Certification Program since participation may require travel support to complete the required training. It is beneficial to discuss possible conflict of interest issues prior to participation in the program with both your supervisor and the HRSC ADR Coordinator. It is expected that Mediator-Candidates will actively participate in the program and provide mediation services for a minimum of three years.