Unsurprisingly, this work is highly confidential and our clients prefer not to be identified. However, they have characteristics and requirements in common. Clients come to us when conflict amongst a senior team or the executive team seems to have become intractable, with colleagues no longer able to work productively together. This sometimes also manifests in formal grievances, allegations of bullying, claim and counterclaim. Due to the seniority of the people involved, there either isn’t someone sufficiently senior and independent within the organisation to investigate and resolve it, or those people simply don’t have the capacity to devote to resolving such a complex situation alongside their busy day job. In these circumstances, the Chief Executive or an Executive Director have commissioned us to investigate thoroughly and advise them on how to resolve the situation.
We work with the client, and usually with other nominated internal colleagues, to design an appropriate investigatory approach. This can range from informal exploratory interviews with the involved parties to undertaking a formal investigation under the organisation’s grievance and/or bullying procedures. Where the situation has not yet reached a formal process, we are often able to facilitate resolution after our initial investigations, using highly skilled facilitation techniques and mediation where required. Where the investigation is taking place under formal procedures, we carry out detailed investigative interviews and produce a report for either the client or the Chair of the formal hearing. Throughout the process, we provide updates to the client and offer advice about how the situation might ultimately be resolved.
Obviously every case is different, but we have successfully supported a range of clients to bring challenging teams back together after periods of conflict. Inevitably, disciplinary action is sometimes required, but in those circumstances our clients know they are taking action based on thorough robust evidence.
Perhaps these issues feel familiar to your organisation too?