Veterinary practice mediation case study
Parties in dispute
Team member and Management
This dispute naturally fell within the formal capability, and potential disciplinary, process as there had been customer complaints and from others in the practice. However, it was recognised by senior management that there was a personality issue here which had never been dealt with properly for many years. It was felt that a mediation could be useful in either improving the working environment for everyone, or result in negotiating a settlement package amicably.
One of the Partners from the practice attended to present the Management’s perspective. He was very reluctant at first to reveal the underlying issue to the team member, namely, that her team were talking about her behind her back, felt she did not pull her weight and upset customers, and would not take constructive criticism. However, once out in the open, the parties were able to explore constructively, facilitated and encouraged by the mediator, how the Team Member might improve her working relationship with her colleagues, with management support.
As it was clear that the team member might need to be dealt with under formal procedures, if she did not make a quick improvement, and the Team Member (who was nearing retirement) wanted to leave with dignity, they agreed an exit plan involving a discretionary financial payment (subject to contract) as a fall back.
Was it a success?
Yes – whilst at the midway point, the team member had stormed out of the room in tears, by the end the parties were hugging. They also had a signed mediated agreement which represented a win-win for them.