David Bryson


A chairperson of a small service business telephones the mediator and describes the following situation. He says that the chief executive officer is at war with a senior manager; both have built the success of the business. The manager has complained of ‘bullying’ by the CEO. The business has no dispute resolution policy or procedures. The chairperson believes the battle could destroy the business and wants both to stay. He has persuaded the CEO into mediation while the manager is apparently more amenable to the process.

The mediator meets first with the manager, who describes episodes of what seems an attempt to force the manager out of the business. The manager wants the behaviour to stop and for the working relationship to be restored, and welcomes the intervention of the mediator as an ally.

The mediator meets with the CEO, who recognises that his behaviour sometimes ‘crosses a line’ but otherwise considers it normal. The CEO now feels the victim to the bullying accusations and sees the mediation process as protecting him from direct contact with the manager. The CEO also sees mediation as being a useful opportunity for tabling a restructuring proposal that would see the manager’s role significantly changed in line with the CEO’s objectives to keep the business viable and reduce friction by minimising contact between them.