Article (September-2020)


Diffuse crisis situation with empathy and collective leadership

Anil Malik

Designation : -   Management Consultant HR & IR Strategies

Organization : -  AM HR Solutions, Indore


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Empathy is not a mere word, it's a way of people management. Authoritative decisions in any organization ultimately creates negativity in the mind of people. We should create an ambiance of our company not by mere saying but by deed also. Further, one sided communication never works, may it be in family or in an organization or in an industry as well. A person who is in helm of affairs must understand all these basics.

Almost 30 Years old forging unit which has its own history of poor employee relations and ample union interventions has been sold twice Due to acute labour unrest and poor out come at the end.

Assuring the top management of getting the pay cut decision implemented without taking plant head in to confidence was utter wrong move by the corporate Group HR Head Mr. Singh. He was well aware about the poor industrial relations situation of the plant.

The Group Hr Head asked plant HR Head to discuss the issue in welfare committee of the plant which is represented by equal members of the management as well workers. But the ground reality was that welfare committee was quite ineffective and there was no representation of young workers. Actually in industries such bi- partite committees can do miracle if such committees are constituted with effective representation and clear roles and responsibility of the members.

The Young workforce was fully reactive and they did not endorse the decision of the welfare committee of agreeing to 10% pay cut. The plant head also sent the copy of that signed paper to the Corporate Head HR for his information.

The corporate HR Head received the tool of safeguarding his position.

The Young workforce which was already angry with the decision of wage cut became more annoyed when they come to know that they have not been given annual increment also which was due based on last year's performance and it has nothing to do with the lockdown situation. This was an utter failure of the plant head HR also. He should have visualized the situation and made the communication transparently .Such tactic never works.

When mass is in anger and the demand is high in lieu of compensation, the first move of the management is to defuse the current situation by way of expressing the full sympathy with the family of the workman who died and support in organizing the cremation of the body at the earliest.

This overall issue could have been handled differently. Instead of adopting one way track of communication any of the directors of the company could have shared his thought with his own people in a common meeting and could have invited the suggestions for handling the crisis occurred due to lockdown. The Directors should have adopted the parental approach. people in management of the company have thought about the crisis of the company but did not imagine the possible crisis situation of their own people who have only source of earning that is salary. The Group HR head also did not act professionally. Before passing on any direction at plant level he should have well checked the pulse and feel of the people. Unfortunately he acted like a toothless tiger. He should have been a mentor for plant HR. The role of COO was also not much involved. He should have well strengthened the welfare committee with a mixed representation of shop managers and young and old workman. In fact such decision which affects the mass should be taken with optimum communication. Instead of authoritative approach an appealing approach could be more effective.

In the whole incidence if Group HR Head would have visited the plant and shared the management decision with COO and all Head of the departments about the overall financial situation and objective of wage reduction, further the head of the departments could have cascade down the communication to workers of their department through supervisors. This way flow of communication could be extended well and the kind of reactions out of such communication might be helpful in taking decision. Many times we need to help and support union representatives in making consensus in taking unpleasant but necessary decision in the interest of organization. Employee relations is not only the domain of HR it is beyond that. Every shop floor manager as well supervisor must be given a training of effective communication and the handling of people. In the moment of Heat when Plant HR head was handling the situation and leading the conversation with cool mind the production Head should have kept quite. Else he could have pacified the angry workman who shouted and later jumped down on communication of production manager.

There is a saying in Hindi that Tol Mol ke bol which actually means mark your words before you shoot from the lips. It is really imperative to choose carefully your words before it comes out. Instead of encouraging to him for suicide he could have discouraged him. The Managers should be effective and influential with their logic and communication which will not only improve the overall plant ambience but also enhance the trend of productive operation in the plant also.

Anil Malik, Management Consultant HR & IR Strategies, AM HR Solutions, Indore