A large national not-for-profit contacted CMP for support; it needed to progress an essential change programme in one of its divisions, but there were serious disagreements in the senior management team about the right strategic direction. HR had already spent a significant amount of time and expertise in coaching individuals in the division, and had attempted reconciliation and damage limitation activity for the group.
But the SMT remained unhappy. Iinternal and external reputational issues were beginning to emerge as the dispute lingered on, and it was becoming difficult for the Division to function effectivelyin the negative climate. Several people were suffering stress generated by the conflict.
The charity asked for a solution that involved all Divisional managers and that would be flexible to respond to the evolving situation.
Where some organisations might at this point think ‘aha! Mediation!’, we proposed something different – neutral assessment.
Why? Because this is a more wide-ranging process that allows visibility of the issues and, critically, the outcome, to all stakeholders. It enables explicit learning and development for the organisation, rather than the secretive ‘behind closed doors’ outcomes of a typical group mediation.
We sent out a bespoke questionnaire to all managers which asked for their perspectives on the conflict causes, the dysfunctional team relationships, and possible next steps. We talked to individuals to hear from them directly. We talked to HR about their views and experiences. And we analysed all the information we collected, and wrote a non-blaming report with our expert recommendations for the next steps to resolution.
After running a bespoke workshop for the divisional managers, and providing coaching for the Director in adopting the best approach, the team was able to make commitments about behavioural change and to agree a way forward.
The neutral assessment outcomes
- Participants knew their views had been listened to and respected
- Managers understood better their role in the situation, and learned important lessons about managing change
- All Divisional managers were engaged in implementing the jointly-developed solutions to the conflict
- A number of working relationships were repaired and re-established
- The Division is now fully functioning and better motivated to deliver the change
The L&D Business Partner said: “We needed a skilled external facilitator to work collaboratively and flexibly with us on what had become a time-consuming and disruptive conflict in a high-profile team. We were very pleased with our choice of CMP Resolutions, and there has been a significant and sustained improvement in team relationships and morale since the work that we did together.”
Don’t forget to consider neutral assessment when you are faced with a messy situation!