ARBITRATION AND MEDIATION #194
The arbitrator, recently promoted to Appeal Board status, makes his/her first appearance at either a Hearing with the parties present or at a meeting of the Board to consider the issues on the documents only basis. Either way, he/she is new on the block and conscious that more experienced arbitrators are in the room. But that is not a reason for a vow of silence or acquiescence or “going with the flow”. The new member has been selected by the appointing authority because there is the confidence that he/she can play their part in maintaining the standards of the Association and in displaying good arbitral skills to decide the issues before the Board.
Others on the Board will have more confidence that comes from experience but they need to handle themselves in a way that encourages, and does not intimidate, the new member. We are back to a structured reasoned approach to decision making – taking the issues in turn and looking at the arguments for and against, airing and discussing any differences that may emerge and ensuring that decisions are made after full consideration of the issues.
We are familiar with the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” and people thrown together over the years have to ensure they keep an open mind and consider constructively, and not dismissively, points made by the new member and, indeed, by other experienced members of the Board as well. Some arbitrators may exude confidence; be keen to set the agenda and quick to dismiss conflicting arguments and views. They need to be put in their place – gently and with a smile by a shrewd Chair of the Board. There has to be fair play, mutual respect and a proper airing of all relevant issues. No egos in the decision-making process.
But how to deal with ego? Here, the Chair is most important. She/he needs to have a “feel” for the dynamics of the Board, for the interplay of personalities and to ensure that all Board members play their part. Chairing is a real and much under-estimated skill and Associations often fail to provide relevant training. “Learning on the job” is important but structured training of Chairs is key. Things cannot be left to chance.
FINAL POST #195 ON 11 FEBRUARY 2022
“RESTRAIN EGO, PROMOTE CONFIDENCE, ENCOURAGE MODESTY”