When the team dynamic is tragic!

This week’s case study looks at resolving conflict using mediation.

I always say that the interesting thing about HR is working with people, it’s the interaction with individuals, learning about them and building relationships, then using that knowledge to influence, motivate, develop and exit them where necessary.

One of our clients contacted us, as they had a manager whose relationship with one of their team members had broken down to the point where they could not sit in the same room together. They asked us to come in and mediate with the pair as an outcome of a grievance, and see if their working relationship could be repaired, as they didn’t want to lose either person as they both had unique and hard to source skills.

We arranged a time to meet, laid down the ground rules for the discussion and began. It was soon established that some of their issues was due to cultural differences. The manager came from a country where disagreeing with your manager was not deemed as acceptable behaviour,  you were expected follow commands without questioning. The other individual came from a country where speaking your mind was expected and respected – Can you guess the countries?

The manager kept speaking over their staff member during the mediation process, every time they expressed their feelings, to the point that we had to adjourn the meeting to calm the staff member and reiterate the ground rules to the manager. After an hour and a half of clearing the air, we established the foundation for their working relationship going forward. We followed up with each individual at 1, 4 and 8 weeks post the mediation session and the relationship was much improved. They would never be friends, but had found some common ground and a language to communicate in.

Here are some tips for mediation:

  • Both parties must be open to the process.
  • Set ground rules.
  • Remember you are there to facilitate only.
  • Do not take sides.
  • Compromise is the key.
  • Listen actively – without interruption.
  • You can adjourn if the meeting is getting heated.
  • It may take more than one meeting to find a resolution.
  • Not every situation can be solved by mediation.

Watch our managing directors Facebook live on the mediation here.

While mediation is not a guaranteed solution for conflict and can be time consuming. It gives you an insight into individuals and may help highlight some action that needs to be taken within your organisation to build better working relationships both internally and externally with clients. For details on how we can support you, click here.