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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

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