Facilitating Workplace Conflict Using People Analytics

CASE STUDY

Using a people analytics and facilitation-based approach, we were able to help align leaders of a growing sales technology company.

As a result of COVID19, the company’s executive team was dealing with disagreements over how the company should pivot, after losing several large customers. This rippled into confusion and mixed messages across the organization’s employees, resulting in an obvious drop in productivity.

Their Head of HR contacted us to help with leadership alignment amidst the rapid changes that were occurring.

 

Our Approach

Upon conducting an initial assessment, we found that each of the 4 leaders had different ideas of how to strategically approach the challenge. This resulted in a breakdown in communication and accusations of “taking sides” based on tenure at the company.   We started by re-orienting them towards their conflict as an opportunity to improve their working relationship and understanding of eachother. 

Then, we used our people analytics tools to give us rich information on the behavioral and work styles of each leader, which we could map to different strategic approaches. As an example, one of the most stark differences the tool showed us was that the CEO, in general, was an enterprising individual who highly favored rapid experimentation and novelty in his work, scoring high in agility and flexibility.  He was an “idea man.” The COO, on the other hand, was much more efficiency and process-driven with less of a risk tolerance – scoring highest in conscientiousness. The two were very different in their personalities, leading to widely different approaches in the face of crisis.  The other two leaders fell somewhere in between these two poles. 

Did they all already know this? Somewhat, yes. But the tool solidified it with numbers and visuals, which helped them to see the actual extent of differences in their approaches. 

By utilizing our proprietary workplace communication framework and tools, we then helped them express their feelings and needs in a constructive, non-offensive manner.  These exercises and our coaching re-established trust and shared understanding between them.

From here, we began whiteboarding options for how to move forward.  We worked through a variety of “what-if” scenarios, conducting some high-level financial analyses, until we were finally able to facilitate an agreement for a phased plan of action

Results

Based on the roadmap we developed, they were able to agree on an initial Phase 1 strategy for regaining customers. With all of them in alignment, they were able to share the information through company communications, helping to align the rest of the company on the goals, plan, and specific milestones to achieve.

The leaders reported after the session that they felt an enhanced self-awareness and appreciation for each other as a result of the work we did together. They reported improved empathy through the exercises, and one the leaders continued leadership coaching with us to develop his communication and EQ skills further.

 

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