Inter-departmental tensions resolved

WEB-NGOClient: International NGO.

Licensee: Renuma.

Tension between two departments was resolved by using insight from Relational Proximity® measurement. Data enabled the senior teams to understand the underlying causes of their difficulties and begin to address them. After a single intervention, the participants put in place a number of actions to enable them to work more positively together.


The directors of these two departments recognised that the state of their groups’ relationship was affecting the organisation’s ability to function effectively. There was tension at all levels.. The directors had previously tried to resolve the situation but there had been very little change. Renuma was commissioned to bring clarity to the situation and enable the senior teams to collaborate.


The relationship between the departments was measured and the analysis used to prepare an improvement workshop for the directors and senior teams. The results of the Relational Proximity® survey indicated that one department felt misunderstood by the others and unfairly blamed when things didn’t go well. Both sides agreed that their objectives were fundamentally misaligned.

Workshop participants identified from the data the issues they particularly needed to work on and Renuma used a number of exercises to build mutual understanding and collaborative behaviour. The first session of the workshop was used to develop empathy between the departments, which enabled them to begin to hear each other’s challenges ‘as if for the first time’ as one participant put it. Having built a stronger foundation, the rest of the workshop focused on developing shared purpose between the participants and identifying a number of immediate actions that would enable the departments to work better together.


The workshop brought a sustained change in the relationship, with one of the directors commenting a year later that ‘things have definitely changed – your intervention loosened the ground to have “good conversations” and share resources’. The strength of the project was in enabling participants to vocalise their differences and challenges using a common vocabulary – the use of data initiated a more practical and less emotive conversation than they had previously managed to have. The workshop identified that much of the tension they were experiencing originated outside the two departments and this insight helped them to start planning collaboratively.

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