North Light Solutions conflict management case studies
Case Study – Business Partnership
Three partners in a photo-voltaic business were placed in a difficult position when government subsidies were cut. If they sold quickly they could still realise a slight profit but it would fall far below the original business goals. The long term outlook was uncertain but the belief was that prices would recover in the long term. Two of the partners (1&2) wanted to sell up, while the third (3) wanted to hold out for the recovery. The deadlock between the three paralysed the company leading to potential collapse.
We knew that the relationship between the partners had turned sour so we held confidential 1:1 discussions with each partner. We quickly realised that Partner 3 held the key and concentrated our efforts on him to identify his personal agenda. Once this was done we engaged separately with Partners 1&2 to understand their worries and potential areas of compromise. Subsequently, we were able to bring all three partners together to analyse the impact of each option on each partner. This enabled the partners to develop a plan for the disposal of the business. The whole process took 2 days.
As a result of our intervention, the partners were able to sell off the business in an orderly and profitable way. Although they have never gone back into business together, they remain on good speaking terms.
Case Study – Team Repair
A successful, small media company of 46 employees was going through a difficult patch with reduced output and a noticeable lack of innovation. The two partners who ran the business put this down to the increased tension and lack of cooperation in the “office”. We were called into advise on how best to reinvigorate the team.
Our initial discussions with key team members indicated that the real problem was not within the office but between the partners. We quickly established that although they had a successful business relationship, the partners has a deep personal dislike of each other which over time had “leaked” into the office causing the staff to divide into factions. Once this was understood the partners were able to agree on how to minimise their personal enmity in the work place. We were then able to work with individuals and subsequently conduct team building to repair the office team. The whole process took seven days over a five week period.
As a result of our intervention, office conflict calmed down and the team is now considerably happier in its work. The company has returned to its high level of output and profitability. The two partners have maintained their agreement and continue to work together is a successful business relationship.
Case study – Complex multiple stakeholders
A public sector organisation had merged two teams which had very different cultures, procedures, IT and leadership. The merger occurred at a time when one of the organisations was struggling to work with a commercial partner. Savings efficiencies were taken upfront while the merged organisation was expected to take on new responsibilities. External stakeholders were not in agreement over the long term goals. It was little wonder that the merged organisation had failed to jell with open conflict breaking out between individuals and sub-teams.
Our initial scoping indicated that this was a complex case. Given the high number of internal players (approximately 150) and the plethora of external stakeholders we decided to deal with the matter in two work streams – internal and external.
Internal. Following discussions with the directors we conducted an analysis to “map the human landscape”. This enabled us to identify key social groups and key influencers (KI) within them. Subsequent 1:1 discussions with selected individuals enabled us to tease out the underlying issues which could then be developed into practical solutions in team workshops, utilising KIs as agents for change.
External. We conducted private 1:1 discussions with the external stakeholders to quantify their concerns and agreed what could be taken back to the organisations leadership for their review. This enabled us to develop a stakeholder influence plan to ensure that they understood that their concerns were being addressed and that the right messages were sent to the right stakeholder.
As a result of our intervention, the pressure from external stakeholders reduced to a manageable level; open conflict was eradicated; collaboration increased significantly as the team implemented procedures which they had developed in the workshops. The whole process took seventeen days -including follow ups – over a 12 week period.