Group Mediation / Team Facilitation; some recent case studies by Dionne Dury

March 11th, 2019

Most organisations are familiar with using mediation in the context of conflicts that arise between individuals in the workplace but what about where issues arise within a team? How can mediation help and what is the difference between group mediation and a group facilitation?

We thought it would be helpful to share examples of the types of situations where we have used group mediation and facilitation with teams along with the benefits of doing so.

Case Study 1 – Team conflict; Higher Education institution

A well established and highly experienced team were having difficulty with their current manager. These difficulties had been ongoing for a considerable amount of time and were beginning to significantly impact on team performance and well-being.

The majority of the team had been in post for some time. There was a general feeling that their manager did not understand the technical nature of the work. Further, there was little respect for the manager; it was felt that the manager was aloof, did not support the team and communicated inappropriately at times to the team and others. The manager felt that there were some very difficult characters and that team performance was a real issue.

There were a number of individual sessions with team members prior to moving towards a group session. In this way it was possible to clarify individual issues before agreeing to and carefully managing a group session. This session allowed for some very frank discussion that ultimately led to an agreement as to how to move towards improved team working. This included such things as improved performance management processes, communication, forward planning and clarity of roles and responsibilities. This has led to a lasting resolution with the whole team remaining in place.

Case Study 2 – rebuilding team relations following a formal process

We were asked to assist with enabling all concerned to move on from recent events; this included staff returning to work following absence and formal processes, adverse impacts on team members and restabilising working relationships. We met with team members individually and confidentiality to gather viewpoints and opinions of what needed to happen. A recurrent theme was an unwillingness within the team to provide open and honest feedback; as a result, by the time the situation came to management and HR attention it had escalated significantly. It was also clear that there was a team divide.

A mediation took place between two employees who had been impacted significantly. This was a difficult process for both as both felt extremely hurt by the others’ actions; the employees were able to work through this and gain a better understanding of the impact of behaviours and how the situation had arisen. Genuine apologies were given on both sides.

A team meeting was then facilitated. This included statements from the two employees who had taken part in mediation and discussions around barriers to open feedback and how these could be overcome. An action plan was agreed and implemented. The team are now working together effectively and the return to work was successfully facilitated.

This process comprised a Neutral Assessment with follow up support for mediation and team facilitation. This demonstrates the need to be flexible when it comes to resolving conflicts and the importance of having a wide range of conflict resolution tools in the box to call upon!

A copy of our guidance note on Team Facilitations is here. If you think you have a situation which might benefit from a group / team facilitation or would just like some further information on how these processes work, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] 0117 307 1117 (England) or [email protected] 01446 760993 (Wales) to discuss.

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