Article (April-2020)


Brunt bridge should be rebuilt to bring back VG

Rajan Sinha

Designation : -   CEO

Organization : -  Mantrana Consulting P. Ltd., Noida


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All of us are familiar with such kind of office politics. At least I have seen one such incident where a group corporate head of HR was eased out of his role after a hugely successful change effort and shunted to a small group company much like Ramayana story, thanks to clique of other heads, because of his imminent elevation to number 2 position in the group.

However, whatever has happened, has happened already, in this case.

1-Responding to the first question whether Subodh's idea of bringing back VG in the backdrop of the incident, my opinion is that in statecraft as well as in administration, there are no permanent enemies. However, seven years is a long time, and much may have changed in the company and Subodh has to examine whether VG will be as effective now as in the past.

Both, Deependra and Shankar can help Subodh pay attention to this. From the case it appears that both of them are just 'yes men'. Deependra did not act professionally seven years back also. He not only executed CMD's fiat then, but also spoiled his own connect with VG. Being employee champion is one of the key HR roles as per Dave Ulrich's framework, and Deependra had merely acted as a Security Supervisor or a clerk. He did not seem to have an opinion of his own then, nor does he seem to have any, even now, except of course, of having burned his bridges with VG. His only fear is how to approach VG in the light of the past. One option with Deependra is to recapitulate the past incident in detail to Subodh, and suggest to him to connect directly with VG through his Secretary. Because, VG had been able to secure testimonial of integrity from CMD even after he left despite so much bad blood, it is more likely that VG may still have a soft corner for the family including Subodh and may be more willing to listen to him.

2-Policy is meant to support larger company interest, and is not immutable. As the case shows, they have not been able to find a suitable replacement despite reasonably sustained effort. If bringing VG back is a need bigger than just Subodh's opinion, it must at least be explored. However, Subodh may keep in mind the power relationships responsible for VG's earlier ouster and how he proposes to override their opposition, overt and covert.

3-Contours of offer and its acceptance will come much later subject to mutual agreement. However, though it is natural for people to carry the hurt much beyond its expiry period, once he is allowed to let off his steam with empathy, he may be willing to consider the offer on its merits. Many other factors also come into play including education of children, relocation challenges, etc.

4-My response is evident from my answer to the previous question. After initial outburst, I would have considered the offer on its merits including locational, compensation and family considerations, along with opinions of family members and mentors. For example, the case does not say where VG's present employment and Subodh's set up are located. Many a time people make decisions based on parents' health, connectivity to hometown, etc. especially after certain age. VG does not seem to be young.

5-Subodh's responses are typical of Indian family business owners. There are countless instances of senior executives being recalled, not once but even twice over, if they catch the fancy of 'Lala'. There are pluses and minuses of this approach. One, is the invaluable premium on competence, if so perceived by the owners. Second, most family business owners think beyond their ego in the interest of the business and are willing to retrace steps, if they feel something needs to be corrected.

Flip side of this mindset is that the opportunity of second and third line of mangers to show their mettle gets accordingly restricted.

Typical family business owners show respect to old associations (people orientation), as is evident from Subodh's approach towards Deependra and Shankar. However, strong focus on task orientation is also evident both from his discussions with the duo, and his willingness to bring in earlier taskmaster, VG.