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“How I Got Here” – Margaret Flannery Mediator

“How I Got Here” – Margaret Flannery Mediator

by Mary Lucey of Career Ahead

Meeting Margaret Flannery recently at a networking event, she explained how she has recently set up a Mediation Services Business. Below she answers a number of questions about mediation, what she does and why she finds it a highly rewarding career choice…..

Tell us a bit about yourself …

My name is Margaret, and my business is called Margaret Flannery Mediation Services. While I am physically based in County Kerry, I work online with individuals and groups from all over the country. I work, and have done so for the past 15 years, in HR management and had a wide range of experience dealing with workplace conflict and resolution. I found that when I understood the mediation process and qualified as a mediator, it was a wonderful tool to support and assist me when dealing with challenging workplace relationships.

What is Mediation and the role of a Mediator…

Mediation is a process where an impartial third party assists when there is a dispute between parties, to resolve conflict using specialised communication and negotiation techniques. All participants in mediation are encouraged to actively participate in the process to reach a resolution. Mediation is a wonderful tool for working through workplace, community, and family disputes. Mediation can help resolve a wide range of disputes, such as commercial, legal, diplomatic, workplace, community, and family matters.

A mediator, like I am, is an independent professional who guides individuals in dispute, through the mediation process with the view of assisting the parties to come to a mutually acceptable agreement. The Mediator facilitates parties to sit down and air their grievances in both private and joint meetings. They ensure that all parties are heard and are given the opportunity to explore options for moving forward to a future, rather than focusing on past difficulties. You can have specific mediation accreditation like Mediation for Separating Couples, as I do, and this means I mediate for many separating couples with children. I help the couples prepare a parenting plan to act as their road map for the future. As time moves on and their children grow, the plan gets reviewed and amended to suit the families changing needs. Mediation can have a huge positive impact in these scenarios, helping all parties to cope with a difficult situation.

Did you always want to be a Mediator…

No, I was not even aware of mediation when I first started to undertake my studies and work. When on my course in 1990’s, I always loved law, and as a result moved into HR and secured a position in that role. Working as a HR Manager for many years; I was constantly addressing workplace conflict. In 2018, I had to take time off work due to work related stress, I found this exceedingly difficult because as the HR Manager, I was the person other people relied on to help them cope with stress and problems at work. When I returned, I wanted to bring about more positive changes in the workplace – to encourage open communication about workplace wellness and support positive mental health. Mediation was the natural solution and thankfully my employer fully supported me and I began my official mediation training.

How did you qualify to become a Mediator…

Having previous qualifications in Accounting and Law, I trained in Mediation with an approved Mediation Institute of Ireland trainer. Qualification is determined via an assessment process with an independent assessor. The training involved, within a group scenario, exploring the core concept of mediation, its procedure and practice. We learned how to develop the core competencies necessary for mediating a dispute; and methods and techniques for identifying the heart of the conflict. As mediators, we were trained to identify how disputants individually handle conflict and changes they may need to make. Mediators must learn how to empower disputants to move from conflict to resolution. Techniques such as role plays are a huge part of the training.

What was Secondary School like for you…

I attended Mean Scoil na Toirbhirte, in Dingle, for my secondary school education. I loved school and English was my favourite subject. As I become a mother at a young age, college was not for me, immediately upon leaving school. However, I always had a passion for education and continued to source a variety of courses to complete over the years and obtain several qualifications – Accounting, Law, Training and lastly Mediation. I see myself as an eternal student and a life-long learner!

What typically does your job involve in a day…

My life revolves around zoom meetings due to the current COVID pandemic! I have corporate clients who I work with on a weekly basis providing HR and mediation services. In addition, I have private mediation sessions. I ensure that I keep a very well-balanced work/life structure.

What are the main skills necessary to be a Mediator…

The two skills that I believe are vital are to be a good listener and to remain non-judgemental. A mediator must remain objective in every scenario and be completely impartial.

What do you love most about your job…

It probably sounds cheesy; but I love helping people and I believe that working together, we can solve almost any problem. If we talk to each other, and really listen to what we are saying; a solution can be found. Helping people resolve issues is hugely rewarding, and I plan to continue with my training to an advanced level until I too will be Mediation Trainer.

Is there anything you don’t like about your job…

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Although it is a necessity now – zoom! I love meeting people face-to-face and it will be great to get back to seeing clients in person once it is safe to do so.

Would you change any of your career decisions todate…

I wouldn’t change anything, as every decision I have made has led me to where I am now and I love my career.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am part of a Skillnet steering group; I had noticed through my HR work that there was very little in the way of a formal qualification for Retail Managers. I raised the matter with the Skillnet Manager and decided to take some positive action to rectify this situation. The Munster Technological University (MTU) Kerry Campus was approached, and it was agreed that they would develop a programme entitled a BA in Retail Experience Management. The first intake of students will be in September 2021. This course is for retail staff who will be able to attain their degree on a part-time basis while continuing to work. This demonstrates again through communication and negotiating, a problem was rectified.

Advice for those making course choices now after their Leaving Certificate…

Think about the future lifestyle you would like to have; then plan what steps you need to take to ensure you eventually get there.

Any final words of inspiration…

There is a path to get everyone to where they want to go, even if it is a long and winding one…..

Mary Lucey Founder of Career Ahead may be contacted at 0879338941

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