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Manage C-Suite Conflict and Increase Collaboration

Ensuring that your C-suite has a healthy team dynamic will translate into success for all levels of the organization.

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Contributors

  • Larry McMullen, Director, Learning and Organization Development, The Hillman Group Inc.
  • Chris Easley, Director of HR, Treasure Island Casino & Bingo
  • Regina Youngblood, HR Director, City of Durham
  • Regional Learning & Development Head, Asia, Willis Group
  • Chien Ping Tham, Regional HR Manager, Willis
  • Mike Burns, Executive Vice President, ASE
  • Craig Parrish, VP HR, BNSF Logistics, LLC
  • Duane Borah, Manager, Goodwill
  • John Hannah, SVP & CHRO, Purolator
  • Jenny Bledsoe, VP of Operations, Meyer Corporation, US
  • Marieta Mendoza, Head of HR, AOL Canada
  • Jeff McLanahan, VP of Training – Success Academy, Clockwork Home Services
  • Debra Dana, Senior HR Executive, Consultant
  • Ron Thomas, CEO, Great Places to Work Gurlf
  • Drew Railton, Managing Partner, Caldwell Partners
  • Cinnie Noble, Founder, CINERGY Coaching
  • Stephanie Jane Myddelton, Organizational Development Specialist, Freelance Consultant
  • Schuyler Totman, M.A., Consultant and Author, Management Consulting
  • John Janetos, Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Gene Deszca, Professor and Associate MBA Director, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Andrew Lambert, Associate Partner, CRF, Creelman Lambert
  • Scott Bohannon, CEO, Info-Tech Research Group

Your Challenge

  • Unhealthy conflict in the executive team can derail even the best strategy.
  • It can result in a lack of collaboration and have real impacts on the bottom line of the organization. If executives are preoccupied with conflict, they are not focused on driving organizational strategies.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • The role of HR in addressing C-suite discord can be a difficult path to navigate, due to the fact that HR is often both part of the C-suite and reports to the CEO. This can create a tricky dynamic, especially when broaching more personal topics, such as behaviors and communication styles.
  • Underlying power dynamics in the C-suite often lead to discord, but can be difficult to alter. The egos that sometimes accompany positions of power can also make it difficult to gain traction for changing the status quo of operating.
  • Resolving C-suite conflict is about leadership. The head of HR should engage in this issue, not because they are HR, but rather because it is an important component of being a strong leader in the organization.
  • The members of the C-suite are role models for the rest of the organization. The behaviors and interactions of the C-suite trickle down and impact the way the rest of the organization interacts. Ensuring that your C-suite has a healthy team dynamic will translate into success for all levels of the organization.

Impact and Result

  • The first step in addressing C-suite discord is making sure that the CEO is onboard. If the CEO does not support the initiative, you will not gain any traction with the rest of the C-suite team.
  • In order to address unhealthy conflict in the C-suite, approach it with an attitude of collaboration – seek the C-suite’s opinions and suggestions for improvement. Making them part of the solution, rather than placing blame, will help create a reaction that is responsive as opposed to defensive.
  • Assess the issues that underlie the causes of discord by gathering input from all C-suite members, and put in place action steps that will help the C-suite shift from unhealthy conflict to collaboration.
  • If you feel that you cannot make traction with the C-suite yourself, leverage the use of an external coach for one-on-one engagements with specific members, or use a facilitator to help the C-suite develop collaborative behaviors as a group.

Research & Tools

1. Understand HR’s role in managing C-suite conflict

Understand HR’s role and positioning in managing and approaching C-suite conflict.

2. Assess the cause of conflict in the C-suite

Assess the root causes of any underlying C-suite conflict and gain buy-in from the CEO and the C-suite for improvement.

3. Develop a collaborative C-suite culture

Align the C-suite with the organization’s mission, vision, values, and strategic objectives, and establish role clarity to develop a collaborative culture.

4. Develop the appropriate leadership behaviors and conflict management skills

Develop appropriate leadership behaviors, including strong communication skills and emotional intelligence, and increase awareness of different conflict management styles.

5. Establish protocols and processes that alleviate conflict

Create and achieve consensus on protocols and processes for decision making, meetings, and information sharing in the C-suite team to increase collaboration.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a seven call advisory process.

Guided Implementation #1 - Understand HR’s role in managing C-suite conflict

Call #1 - Understand HR role in resolving C-suite discord

Guided Implementation #2 - Assess the cause of conflict in the C-suite

Call #1 - Gain buy-in for assessing the C-suite’s level of collaboration
Call #2 - Review the assessment tool outcomes

Guided Implementation #3 - Develop a collaborative C-suite culture

Call #1 - Gain advice on how to create alignment in the C-suite on strategy and goals
Call #2 - Review the RACI tools to understand how to analyze duplication of roles

Guided Implementation #4 - Develop the appropriate leadership behaviors and conflict management skills

Call #1 - Gain advice for delivering conflict resolution training

Guided Implementation #5 - Establish protocols and processes that alleviate conflict

Call #1 - Gain advice on how to align performance objectives and compensation to drive collaborative behaviors in the C-suite

Onsite Workshop

Discuss This Workshop

Book Your Workshop

Onsite workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Understand HR’s role in managing C-suite conflict

The Purpose

  • Gain a deep understanding of HR’s role in managing C-suite conflict, and what it takes as the head of HR to be able to address C-suite conflict.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • An understanding of how to best approach C-suite conflict as HR and what it takes to be able to do so.
  • Proactively develop a collaborative culture.
  • An understanding of when to leverage the board and your CEO.
  • An understanding of when to use an external coach or facilitator. 

Activities

Outputs

1.1

Establish an understanding of dynamics in your C-suite

  • A deep understanding of the interactions and power dynamics in your C-suite
1.2

Refresh your understanding of the key members of the C-suite

  • Refreshed understanding of the key members of the C-suite and your relationship with each of them

Module 2: Assess the cause of conflict in the C-suite

The Purpose

  • Gain an understanding of the root issues that are creating conflict amongst your C-suite. 

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Reviewed engagement data to understand the impact of C-suite conflict on the organization.
  • Gain buy-in from the C-suite to assess the lack of collaboration.
  • Understand what issues are underlying C-suite conflict.

Activities

Outputs

2.1

Deploy the C-Suite Collaboration Assessment Tool

  • Deployed C-Suite Collaboration Assessment Tool and an understanding of what issues underlie the conflict
2.2

Analyze the results of the assessment tool

  • Understanding of the root causes of your C-suite conflict
2.3

Share the assessment results with the CEO and the C-suite

  • Buy-in for improvement from the CEO and C-suite

Module 3: Develop a collaborative C-suite culture

The Purpose

  • Develop a collaborative C-suite culture and re-align the C-suite to the organization’s mission, vision, values, and strategic objectives.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Documented steps to take to improve the C-suite culture.
  • C-suite alignment on strategy and goals.
  • Development of an appreciation for thought diversity in the C-suite.
  • Established C-suite role clarity.

Activities

Outputs

3.1

Re-align organization’s mission, vision, and values

  • Creation of C-suite awareness and alignment with organization’s mission, vision, and values
3.2

Re-align overall strategy

  • Alignment of individual goals and motivations with the overall strategy
3.3

Acknowledge and encourage appreciation of thought diversity

  • Debrief of assessment results to acknowledge and encourage appreciation of thought diversity
3.4

Establish role clarity

  • Role clarity to minimize the potential for conflict around C-level roles and responsibilities
3.5

Document action plan items

  • Documented action plan items and next steps to improve your C-suite team culture

Module 4: Develop the appropriate leadership behaviors and conflict management skills

The Purpose

  • Develop appropriate leadership behaviors such as strong C-suite communication skills and emotional intelligence, and raise awareness of conflict-resolution styles and impacts in order to collaborate effectively.

 

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Documented steps to take to improve the C-suite’s leadership behaviors.
  • Development of strong C-suite communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Delivered training on conflict resolution. 

Activities

Outputs

4.1

Complete the Conflict Style Self-Assessment Tool

  • Completion of the Conflict Style Self-Assessment Tool to understand your C-suite’s approaches to conflict
4.2

Plan to deliver McLean & Company’s High Impact Leadership Conflict Resolution training deck

  • Delivery of a High Impact Leadership conflict resolution training session to improve your C-suite’s conflict management knowledge and skills
4.3

Document action plan items

  • Documented action plan items to improve your C-suite’s leadership and conflict management skills

Module 5: Establish protocols and processes that alleviate conflict

The Purpose

  • Establish protocols and processes to facilitate decision making, meetings and the sharing of information, which in turn alleviate conflict and increase collaboration.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Documented steps to take to improve the C-suite’s protocols and processes.
  • Established, repeatable decision-making process.
  • Set processes for holding meetings and sharing information.
  • Aligned performance objectives and compensation to drive collaborative behaviors.

Activities

Outputs

5.1

Develop the process for making decisions

  • Consensus among the C-suite group on the process for making decisions
5.2

Develop protocols for meetings and sharing information

  • Consensus and commitment on protocols for meetings and sharing information
5.3

Document action plan items

  • Documented action plan items for adopting processes that will help remove unhealthy conflict

Search Code: 78191
Published: July 28, 2015
Last Revised: July 28, 2015