“I have two managers who will not work together. In fact, they avoid speaking to each other because the situation is so volatile. This makes it challenging for everyone on their teams, as well as others across the company. Is it possible to get them to move beyond all the baggage from the past?”
We initially met with the director to clarify objectives, gather relevant details and identify boundaries we needed to stay within. We then had one-on-one meetings with each manager to establish trust, learn about their perspectives, and identify common ground as well as critical issues that could be resolved for mutual benefit. The use of the Meyers-Briggs instrument provided insight about each manager’s style and potential points of conflict.
Each manager was skeptical that any good could come from a joint meeting. The conflict resolution sessions had been attempted before and simply getting the managers to treat each other with respect during a meeting would be a significant accomplishment. Because of the trust we quickly built in our individual meetings, they agreed to meet together.
We carefully designed the content and flow of the joint three-hour meeting that we facilitated. Even though there was initially significant anxiety and tension, because of the process we used, the meeting ended up being calm, orderly, and productive. They developed a deeper understanding of each other’s situation and were able to tear down some key walls. We surfaced and corrected invalid assumptions, and some powerful “aha” moments occurred. New ground rules for engagement and communication processes were developed, and all the expected outcomes of the session were achieved.
Most importantly, a more positive relationship ensued. Meetings and regular communication without my involvement continued, and their teams began working together without the previous tension. This increased morale and value contribution by both departments.