I am the director of a small senior center with 5 staff and some volunteers. If someone has an issue with another staff member/volunteer, I try to mediate with the two and work out a resolution with both of them together. Sometimes this seems to produce offense for one or the other. How do I avoid this?
I am the director
Being the director means you don't get to make everyone happy. It means you need to tell people when they're doing something wrong and determine what you believe is in the best interest for your company and sometimes be the bad guy.
If someone has an issue with another staff member/volunteer, I try to mediate with the two and work out a resolution with both of them together
If your co-workers aren't working well together because of personal reasons, that's unprofessional and not beneficial to your company. In this case, make it clear that it is a work environment that has a goal and that personal issues be left at the door.
If its because of something one person did that the other doesn't like, then you need to address what happened and how it should be handled to set a precedent. If it continues to occur, then it is easy to discipline. In these issues, you may side with one party and upset the other, but make it clear that you make decisions based on what will benefit the company.
This makes it so that you aren't targeting a specific person, but working to improve the company. Some may be offended, but basing your company upon not offending people will do more harm than good.
Remember, everyone gets offended differently. It changes by person, by time, and has way too many factors to work around. The best you can do is to avoid making it personal and understand that you will offend some people sometimes. Best of luck.
If one is clearly in the wrong, you only need to speak to one, in private preferably. I have never found bringing two people in as a great idea in such situations. The one in the wrong loses 'face' in front of the other which causes more resentment.
But, at the end of the day, if you're the manager of these people, you should not let things like offending staff members when you need to distract you from your work. It's not a beauty pageant.
Stop mediating, it's not your job and will only further the problem by giving it credibility and by taking away responsibility for their behaviour from them.
Get them both together (with someone from HR); tell them their bickering is affecting the wider team and must stop. Tell them you will no longer be mediating and that you are giving them responsibility for their behaviour. Give them a deadline and some space to develop a Relationship Plan. This should detail when and how they are going to communicate, what they are responsible for achieving together, etc. (basically cover everything that might lead to an argument). Tell them that during the time you're giving them, you will give them space to do whatever it is they need to do to work it out, and that you're prepared to put resource into it to make it happen; if they want to spend the day working on a charitable project, fine, whatever. When they bring the plan to you tell them you expect them to abide by it and if they don't explain that it may lead to a disciplinary on the basis that they are not behaving professionally despite being given every opportunity to change. They can't protest because they defined nice. At the first sign of any disagreement after the plan, go straight to disciplinary - evidence it and go by the book because you may ultimately have to sack one of them.