Reviewers are asked to provide an honest and objective summary of feedback—the ‘Feedback Digest’—about a Mediator/Advocate’s performance, based on discussions with the individual and Feedback Forms received from users who have worked with them. They typically also work with the Mediator/Advocate to consider further development of their skills.
The review process:
- enables potential future users to gain an appreciation of the individual’s skills and character
- removes some of the guesswork associated with the process of selecting a mediator and gives prospective users a greater insight into the competency and suitability of the Mediator for a specific case, facilitating the development of trust in the Mediator. This may make it easier to persuade hesitant parties to try mediation, or a new mediator.
- gives Mediators and Advocates the opportunity to understand from third parties how they felt about the individual’s performance, and the mediation process in general. This in turn helps the individual to refine their skills and practices for future, building on strengths and highlighting any development needs.
- assists providers and panel organizers when reviewing their mediators’ performances, determining the individual’s suitability for certain kinds of disputes, and allowing them to build on best practice and plan professional enhancement programs
The Reviewer may be an individual or an institution. Reviewers are free to withdraw at any time, and are asked to inform the Mediator/Advocate and IMI of any decision to do so.
The IMI Feedback Request Form has been designed to draw out parties’ satisfaction in relation to the individual’s competency and style, and to generate specific useful observations. Other received feedback may also be considered, along with information received through discussions with the Mediator/Advocate or providers/entities with whom they work. There is no fixed format for the Feedback Digest. Feedback from at least 10 medications is recommended as the basis for the initial Feedback Digest.
Compiling the Feedback Digest
- Prepare each Feedback Digest from the perspective of future users, trying to objectively summarize feedback as accurately as possible. It is important that the Digest is honest and credible to future users.
- Emphasize any repeatedly-mentioned strengths or characteristics.
- Focus on perceived skills and styles, illustrating with examples where appropriate.
- Maintain confidentiality regarding mediations and their participants.
- Avoid merely offering a selection of quoted extracts from Feedback Forms, especially if these could be misleading when taken out of context.
- Avoid using the style of a marketing piece or endorsement, as this could compromise credibility.
- Update the individual’s Feedback Digest regularly, and at least annually.
- Keep the length to a maximum of 1000 words/two pages.
- Include a statement on whether there has been any specific negative feedback repeated more than three times from different mediations. Negative feedback must be summarised in the Feedback Digest if:
- You have spoken to the providers of that feedback and to the individual, to understand the circumstances in each case, and believe the feedback to be relevant to future users, and
- Negative feedback on substantially the same perceived failing has been expressed more than three times from users in different mediations involving the same individual during the previous 24 months
- You may include in the Feedback Digest any explanations provided by the individual about negative feedback.
- If there has been no reportable negative feedback, the Digest should say so.
Adding a Feedback Digest to a Mediator or Mediation Advocate’s IMI profile
All Reviewers can input and revise Feedback Digests directly on the IMI wbsite. If you do not yet have a username and password for the IMI website, please contact email@example.com requesting a login. Reviewers should ensure that their profile includes their name, position, organisation, and contact information. To add a Feedback Digest to a profile:
- Login at https://imimediation.org/login
- Find the person’s profile. For existing mediators and advocates, find the person’s profile and click on the ‘star’ you will see just below their photo. Direct links to profiles take the format www.imimediation.org/member/firstname-lastname/. Newly-certified individuals may be found on this page, which is viewable by QAPs, Reviewers, and newly-certified individuals only: https://imimediation.org/find-a-mediator/newly-certified/. If you are unable to find the individual’s profile, please contact them for their direct link, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Click the link to ‘write a review’. You can also amend prior reviews you have left.
Here is an example review tab: https://imimediation.org/member/arnaud-booij/?profiletab=reviews Please remember that all information regarding a mediation, including the fact that it took place, the names of the parties and what happened during the process are generally confidential and you are expected to protect the confidentiality of all such information when preparing Feedback Digests.
Example Feedback Digest (Fictitious)
Mediator: Mary Smith
Reviewer: John Jones
Last Update: September 1, 2008
This Feedback Digest is based on 17 feedbacks from 15 mediations, initially submitted in April 2008
Ms Smith has consistently been rated at Performance Level 5 by parties for whom she has acted as a mediator. A very high percentage of parties would recommend Ms Smith as a mediator, a fact borne out by the number of parties willing to use her again and to provide a reference to parties considering the engagement of Ms Smith as a mediator in the future. Costs were widely reported as reasonable in the context of the value of the disputes mediated by Ms Smith, and in general a very high degree of satisfaction was reported.
Those who experienced Ms Smith’s organizational skills in setting up, explaining and preparing for the mediation regularly reported that Ms Smith was perceived as having treated all sides fairly and impartially, was efficient and attended to organizational details promptly. Several parties commented that she patiently explained aspects of the mediation when asked, and clearly negotiated and laid out the ground rules both before the mediation began and at the start of the process.
Ms Smith’s management skills in the mediation process were hailed as a key strength. Ms Smith was reported as encouraging the parties to develop a range of solutions. A high proportion of Ms Smith’s mediations resulted in a resolution. In the several cases that reached a resolution after the actual mediation process had ended, Ms Smith remained available to support parties as needed. She was especially congratulated for being a steadying influence when tensions among the parties increased and for keeping negotiators focused on key issues and future interests. Several feedback providers complimented Ms Smith’s ability to manage forceful lawyers, and she rapidly developed highly trusting relationships with parties. She was reported as having a genuinely caring attitude, and for being a good listener.
A wide range of mediation skills have emerged from Feedbacks received in Ms Smith’s case. In particular, frequent mention was made of Ms Smith’s ability to propose new ways of dealing with potential deal-breakers when they arose, and her persistence in keeping the parties working towards a mutually acceptable resolution. In several cases, the parties asked Ms Smith for a non-binding opinion. The Feedback Reports for these cases indicate Ms Smith’s willingness to do so and special mention was made of the usefulness of her opinions.
No reportable negative comments have arisen in the past two calendar years.
Assessing Mediators: A Bibliography
Among a long list of articles, reports, policy monographs and other documents discussing mediation quality control generally, there are relatively few which specifically focus on performance-based assessment. That is the core method by which mediators will become qualified for IMI Certification, so this list is focused on the documents that are most useful for that specific purpose.
Assessment: a Methodology, for Use in Selecting, Training and
Evaluating Mediators (Honeyman, C., et al, Test Design Project; U.S.
National Institute for Dispute Resolution, 1995)
This 60 page monograph sums up the state-of-the-art of mediator testing and evaluation circa its publication date. Now in need of updating, it nevertheless remains the most comprehensive single reference available. It includes two sample cases that have been used for mediator assessment in different programs in the United States, with thorough annotations as to their respective advantages and drawbacks. The fact that both evaluation scales and the underlying design of any individual mediator assessment exercise are culturally sensitive is stressed, and three alternate sets of evaluation scales are presented for three kinds of mediation programs. These do not address the needs of any culture outside the U.S., but they at least serve as a general illustration of the ways in which such scales can be adapted to fit different mediation cultures.
- “On Evaluating Mediators” (Honeyman, C., Negotiation Journal, January 1990)
This article discusses the different ways in which mediators might be evaluated, and describes why most of them do not work. It includes an early set of performance criteria (which later became Variant 1 in Performance-Based Assessment, above.)
- “Five Elements of Mediation” (Honeyman, C., Negotiation Journal, April 1988)
This article was the origin of the system of performance-based assessment since used by programs in a number of countries.
- A Consumer Guide to Selecting a Mediator (Alaska Judicial Council /US State Justice Institute, 1994)
This easy-to-follow guide shows how parties and other mediation consumers can use mediator performance criteria when informally interviewing a mediator or checking references.
Approaches: the Slow Movement toward Skills-based Testing Continues”
(Waldman, E., Dispute Resolution Magazine, American Bar Association,
This short article assesses the “state-of-the-art” of a variety of efforts to guarantee quality of mediation services, circa 2001.
- “Performance-Based Testing of Mediators (a lightning-speed tour)” (Honeyman, C., 2009)
This PDF document is based on a Powerpoint presentation given to a meeting of the IMI Independent Standards Commission, and is the shortest known summary of 25 years’ work on performance-based testing of mediators.
Four Ways to Assure Mediator Quality (and why none of them work)”
(Moffitt, M.L., Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, Volume 24/2,
This recent article analyzes possible quality control policy on a “macro” level, and concludes that no policy is likely to work on a broad scale. It does not specifically discuss performance-based testing of mediators, except by implication since this is inherently one option within what the author characterizes as “front-end” mechanisms. The author’s central objection to all “front-end” mechanisms is that none of them is likely to preclude an unqualified mediator from practicing.