Last week I had another reminder of the immense transformative value of using workplace mediation techniques when I was asked to work with the executive team of a business turning over £10m annually which was facing the potential fracture of the team and the business. The starting point of my involvement was a call about the current CEO being forced out and the “problem behaviour” of one particular Exec who was on the one hand threatening to leave and take business with him, and on the other hand wanting to put his hat in the ring as next CEO.
I spoke to each exec individually and then facilitated the exec team over two meetings. By the end the execs had returned to a functioning team, albeit with a long list of issues which they still need to resolve. We focused initially on two critical issues which had to be resolved to enable the longer list of issues to be tackled – firstly how to talk to and work with each other in this crisis period, and secondly how to define, recognise, and reward individual contribution.
By the end the team had made so much progress that they had re-established trust to the point that the “problem exec” is now the designated CEO. It is interesting to observe how difficult it is for individuals to be open and honest about their issues, yet how transformative it can be when individuals talk about how they are feeling and what their individual needs are. The fracture of the business was avoided through an investment of 21 hours of intervention – and which will now avoid many months of protracted wrangling, loss of productivity, immense management distraction, and significant cost.