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© 2008 Plug-in Excellence

A CEO was having major problems with his number two. He valued his colleague and the contribution he could make. However, they both had strong personalities and firm views resulting in escalating and destructive conflict which was affecting others in the organisation.

Finally their team, suffering from disruption, asked them to resolve their differences. Mac was called in. The combatants agreed to meet, off-site, to undertake a process to help them work more effectively together. It was implicit that if they couldn’t achieve this then disciplinary action would have to follow with Board involvement.

Part of the facilitator/client(s) contract was that ground rules were needed to enable effective listening. During the first part of the intervention, feelings became heated and both the CEO and deputy rejected the ground rules and decided to sort themselves out. They proceeded on their own with the knowledge that assistance was available if required. Forty-five minutes later in a state of barely restrained anger they called for help.

After a tough facilitated meeting, and finally operating to the agreed ground-rules, they were able to listen and respond to each other with a new clarity. The unblocked communication lines enabled them to communicate, deal with the past, focus on the reality of their situation, commit to their common goals and make a pact for ongoing cooperation.

Working together they built a positive working relationship which they sustained until a career move two years later. The team never complained about conflict between them again.


It Takes Two to Tangle