Situation The senior U.S. executive for an Australian company was called to Sydney for a month, and many of his responsibilities were assumed by a vice-president in the U.S. During this time, the vice-president implemented new procedures, with the Board’s approval but without the senior-executive’s knowledge. Upon his return, the senior-executive raised the issue with the vice-president; the vice-president walked out on the meeting, reported feeling threatened by her supervisor’s aggressive and angry behavior, and wouldn’t return to work.
Consensus Effort Consensus convened a joint mediation session between the senior-executive and vice-president, in which we adopted a facilitative modality. Rather than separating the parties and using shuttle diplomacy (directive modality), Consensus encouraged and facilitated direct conversation between the parties.
In addition to addressing the substantive and emotional matters that existed between the parties, our process surfaced several contributors that otherwise might have gone unaddressed, including systemic issues in the company. The intervention also helped the parties understand why their conversation had gone awry and how to avoid repeating the same pattern in the future.
By the end of the three-hour conversation, each party had regained the trust and respect of their colleague, and was looking forward to working with the other. They also identified collaborative strategies for addressing the systemic contributors, and for addressing decision-making and improved communication during extended absences.
The client retained a talented, engaged employee
The client reduced its liability, and avoided potential litigation
The U.S. management team was restored, and is enjoying an improved corporate culture and greater efficiencies
Systemic contributors have been identified and corrected