Communication is the foundation of success in any growing organisation. As a business grows larger in size, it will likely face a number of communication challenges. An increase in number of employees, having offices at multiple locationsand even moving communication online allallow for potential miscommunication occurring between staff across all levels.

In online communications, where body language and other visual cues are not able to assist in toning down a message, messages may be misconstrued and misunderstood. This causes stress between staff, leading to strained relationships, which are unhealthy for any organisationmuch less a growing one. If not dealt with in a timely way, the relationship between staff may deteriorate and become hostile,which only threatens to affect the productivity and operations of the company.

In this blog, we consider a case where relationships in an organisation have strained due to such miscommunication. Mediation can prove to be very helpful in such scenarios since it is conducted privately and will help each side create a common ground and alleviate awkwardness. Mediators can help reconcile unwanted workplace disputes, ultimately restoring effective communication between team members.

The Case:

Visualise a scenario where an organisation has grown in size very quickly and now has multiple directors based across two states. One of the directors has conveyed veiled threats through email to the others using a tone and language that would probably not be used in a face-to-face setting. This leads the other directors to respond in the same manner, causing friction between the various executives. What would you do to prevent the situation from worsening, which could potentially impact the growth and success of the organisation?

The Process:

  1. Mediation was proposed as a solution in order to prevent the situation from worsening.
  2. Once agreed, a session for each board member with an independent mediator was arranged so that they could discuss their concerns before the joint board meeting. This allowed each member to have his or her say in a private environment.
  3. After the mediator gains an understanding of each board member’s perspective regarding the email and the bigger concerns, including any threats that may have been inferred from the exchange of emails, a joint mediation session was arranged.
  4. The special board meeting was facilitated just as any multiparty joint mediation session. This meant setting an agenda, having ground rules for conduct and behaviour, an opening statement by all attendees, generation and evaluation of options, negotiation and finally a detailed recording of the meeting and its outcome.

The Outcome:

In this scenario, bringing in an external mediator to understand the perspectives from each executiveand run the joint session helped resolve the issues by clearing up any misunderstandings, repairing relationships and ensure for smooth proceedings. The mediation session, which is future focused, allows all sides to gain clarity on email communication and collaboratively decide how they communicate for future board meetings and company productivity and operations.

The above scenario is applicable not just to meetings between same-level executives or board members, but also to cross-level communications between executives, management and employees. Communications is a vital area that could affect the functioning of the organisation, as any gap between management and executives could lead to major misunderstandings and a breakdown in communication if not handled appropriately or timely. In fact, 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.

While communication challenges may occur within a rapidly growing company, they certainly should not hinder the company’s progress. Our well-qualified mediators at SHAW Mediation help to resolve many challenges faced by organisations, moving them forward towards success. If you think your company is facing communication challenges, we’ll be happy to assist. Let’s talk!