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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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  • Jenny Bledsoe, VP of Operations, Meyer Corporation, US
  • Scott Bohannon, CEO, Info-Tech Research Group
  • Duane Borah, Manager, Goodwill
  • Michael Burns, Executive Vice President, ASE
  • Debra Dana, Senior HR Executive, Consultant
  • Gene Deszca, Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Chris Easley, Director of HR, Treasure Island Casino & Bingo
  • John Hannah, SVP & CHRO, Purolator
  • John Janetos, Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Andrew Lambert, Associate Partner, CRF, Creelman Lambert
  • Jeff McLanahan, VP of Training – Success Academy, Clockwork Home Services
  • Larry McMullen, Director, Learning and Organization Development, The Hillman Group Inc.
  • Marieta Medoza, Head of HR, AOL Canada
  • Stephanie Jane Myddelton, Organizational Development Specialist, Freelance Consultant
  • Cinnie Noble, Founder, CINERGY Coaching
  • Craig Parrish, VP HR, BNSF Logistics, LLC
  • Drew Railton, Managing Partner, Caldwell Partners
  • Regional Learning & Development Head, Asia, Willis Group
  • Ron Thomas, CEO, Great Places to Work Gulf
  • Schuyler Totman, M.A., Consultant, Management Consulting, author of Ironies Leaders Navigate: What the Science of Power Reveals about the Art of Leadership
  • Regina Youngblood, HR Director, City of Durham
  • The role of HR in addressing C-suite discord can be a difficult path to navigate as HR is often part of the C-suite and reports to the CEO. This can create a tricky dynamic.
  • 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 C-suite status quo.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Resolving C-suite conflict is about leadership. The head of HR should engage in this issue not because they are HR but because it is an important component of being a strong people leader in the organization.
  • The C-suite is a role model 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

  • It is essential that CEO supports the initiative, otherwise you will not gain any traction with the rest of the C-suite team.
  • Collaborating with the C-suite, rather than placing blame, will help create a reaction that is responsive rather than defensive.
  • Assess the issues that are underlying 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.

Research & Tools

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

Assess the root causes and impact 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

Develop appropriate leadership behaviors, including strong communication skills and emotional intelligence, and understanding of conflict resolution methods.

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's 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

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: August 15, 2019