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Case Study

Client: National – Mediation UK


Brief

Can mediation help us with this difficult and volatile situation?


Solution

Some examples:

  • A team-member was on the brink of accusing her manager of bullying; neither the team-member nor the manager were sleeping, both were highly stressed and unable to be together in the same room, or hold a conversation. Our intervention was able to help the team-member to see how the line-manger’s style had undermined her self-confidence, by focusing on outcome at the expense of personal contact and reassurance. At the same time, the line-manager’s wish to secure outcomes had been resting on her wish to support her staff and her team, and had come from a genuine belief she was doing the best for her team. As the two women began to understand each other’s motivation behind certain incidents, they became able to see the values which had driven them. They were able to acknowledge their own parts in triggering the difficult conversations, and warmed to each other enough to reassess their criticism, and see each other’s failings within a wider, more forgiving, context. Since the intial meeting, plus only one follow-up consultation each, there have been no more problems, and both report a much happier working environment.
  • We were able to help with some mediation and individual coaching for a manager and his subordinate who had once been friends. Where previously they had held a positive regard for each other’s work, they were now convinced that lack of competence was at the root of personal difficulties; in addition, the subordinate believed the manager was covertly trying to give him the sack. They were heading towards legal procedings, with allegations of harassment from both sides. At initial meetings, they were unable to address, or even look at, each other, and conversation happened through the mediator, in the third person. This stand-off transformed through the course of the meetings. In several exchanges, there was a moving discussion about the triggers and incidents which had caused the breach, and the distress it had caused them both. Greater understanding of the nature of disconnection also began to emerge, and this enabled them to see more clearly what they had both brought to the incidents which disturbed them. Sadly, these colleagues were asked prematurely to complete a performance review very shortly after the mediation sessions. This again raised the issue of competency on both sides, and the parties were unable to sustain the new perspectives in the course of that meeting. The considerable personal effort and work put in by parties during a mediation always needs careful post-mediation planning, for the constructive steps to continue.

Consultants

Elizabeth English

 

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