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Case

Studies

Business Case Study 

Situation

A local engineering firm has several departments that require coordination in order to fulfil contracts.  From Customer facing business development, to design, to engineering and finally manufacturing.  While some staff fulfill multiple roles in the process, it is usually business development and design teams who have conflict with engineering and manufacturing teams, with several orders being backed up due to internal strife between departments leading to lost profitability and even customer complaints.  The CEO has decided to contact Fresh Start Workplace Mediation services to resolve this dispute and get the teams working together. 

Conflict

The BD and Design team feels that the Engineering and Manufacturing teams are making issues unnecessarily difficult and therefore, have to constantly calm clients down.  The engineering team, feels that the BD/Design team constantly over-promise to the clients, have no idea or respect of the engineering process and complain, against there back, to the CEO who seems to side with them way too often, even when the issues are black and white. 

Mediation Outcomes

  • Engineering felt that a personal relationship between the CEO and BD/Design was influencing decisions. Further, they felt that the BD/Design lacked the basic engineering skills in their designs that led to severe delays.  They have lost trust in the process

  • BD/Design teams felt that the Engineering team did not have the fundamental understanding of the sales process, leading to unnecessary delays in order to prove how ‘skilled’ they were, causing irreparable damage in the relationships with clients, and how they are viewed in the eyes of the CEO.  They feel their jobs are on the line.

  • There is a common feeling of lack of appreciation by both sides.

Solutions 

  • The mediation process allowed for mutual recognition.

  • The solution involved creating rotating Project Managers where the engineering teams were more involved in the Design process, and team meeting progress meetings.

  • This has provided for mutual understanding between the departments, more transparency throughout the process driving towards mutual ownership over each project.

  • This has led to tighter timelines, mutual recognition, and client satisfaction and increase in overall corporate profitability. 

Management vs. Labor Case Study

Situation

 

Trainers at a large training facility conflicted with middle management about new policies regarding training procedures.  After the initial policy information email was sent from Management, one of the trainers replied to all with a contentious rebuke of one specific policy.  This created a cascade of replies, anger and ultimately the threat of sanctions from middle management on one side, and solidarity by the trainers on the other.  

 

Conflict

 

While middle management fears that they are facing a ‘revolt’ and how this could reflect on them by upper management, the trainers felt they were being disrespected and unable to continue to function at the level of quality their trainees have come to expect.  They also would have liked to be consulted as to some of the new policies, for there is some merit to the intent of them, yet the implementation was insulting.  Upper management is keeping a close eye on the outcome of this dispute to gauge whether they placed the right manager in the role to replace the recently retired previous one.  Middle management has therefore decided to bring in a mediator to act as a facilitator to this discussion, in order to keep the proceedings professional and confidential, and has therefore contacted Fresh Start Mediation to help resolve this dispute.

Mediation Outcomes

 

  • The previous manager would always consult with the trainers. They were always professional in their discourse, and understood that sometimes things just had to happen, but they were given the support and environment in which to reflect on these issues. 

  • Since the new manager arrived, the spirit of collaboration, in the eyes of the trainers, seemed to disappear.  Where they felt they had input before, this new manager had a different approach they felt disrupted the culture that already had been established. 

  • The new manager had been a trainer in their previous position, and had been given this opportunity to run a new branch, and felt that the previous culture was lacking professionalism, and had made it a goal to shift the culture somewhat, believing this was the mandate from Upper Management.

  • The mediation process involved holding private meetings, or caucus sessions, that invited both sides to be able to confess perhaps some of the deeper issues involved.  The main issues discovered through this process:

    • One of the trainers had also applied for the new Manager role, and had they been hired, would have handled some of this quite differently. 

    • The ‘Reply all’ was in error, as it was supposed to be sent to someone else in a private message, but stands by it, as it seems to have been the catalyst for change.

    • The new manager was afraid that their position would be at risk if this was handled poorly, and simply wanted the respect the position required in order to be effective. 

    • The ‘Reply All’ was a public rebuke, which showed disrespect, that therefore threatened the managers ability to maintain their authority. 

    • After all, not long before they were one of the trainers and these ‘new’ policies were standard practice at the old branch, which, in turn, padded the resume and assisted in the promotion to management.   

 

Solutions

  • The solution involved finding common ground between the two main parties involved.  The trainer apologized for the public nature of the email, and the new manager, upon realizing that the trainer had managerial ambitions, would do what they could to help them achieve that goal. 

  • A new monthly collaborative meeting would be held, where management and trainers would have an open forum to discuss what was, and what was not working.  This meeting would be chaired by the trainers in order to help those with managerial ambitions succeed.

  • This collaboration meeting was later established by Upper Management, to all other branches as standard company policy.