Article (April-2018)


Leading solution with softer approach

Anil Malik

Designation : -   Management Consultant HR & IR Strategies

Organization : -  AM HR Solutions, Indore


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Human behaviour is same irrespective of kind of workplace whether it is a manufacturing unit, textiles or pharmaceutical company. People's management depends on the human psychology. When we relate it with a conduct or misconduct of a person at work, we find that in most of the situation it is not different.
Here it is a case, of big Pharma Company having robust business with sufficient margin of profit. People are happy, satisfied and management is enjoying the good state of employee relations at works.
There is no union, but there is a committee of people of authorised representatives, who works for negotiations at the time of wage revision and alike issues. Equally, management also has a belief of fair and transparent work culture.
Mr. Lokesh Nigam - HR Head, who joined the company a year back, developed his roots in the heart of people by his value - based approach with ethical behaviour. He seems to be firm and fair. He believes in personal touch with people and he takes frequent rounds in the plants and maintains the communication flow.
However, his this style of working is not liked by the shop floor managers and he is perceived as a soft hearted manager by the rest of his colleagues at works. Unfortunately, this is the irony of the HR heads in industries that their fairness and people oriented approach is commonly treated as soft way of working or to the extent against the guideline of the management. There are many such examples we can see in our industries in any corner of the country where HR head has to compromise with his professional ethics only because it does not suits to other functionaries. Particularly those, who are responsible for the operation of the business, they do not like any such approach, which check their style of working. Here, Mr. Nagwade the head of operation and his operational managers are not convinced with the style of Mr. Lokesh.
Just 2 months before the negotiations on wage settlement Mr. Nagwade made an issue in the management committee meeting that the rejection of the produced goods is increased and its quality is affected because the people in the third shift were sleeping during their working hours. He also emphasised that this is only because of softer approach of Mr. Lokesh.
As it happens commonly, the head of operations has not even thought off that the line manager is the first person who is responsible for maintaining the discipline at the shop floor. Mr. Lokesh immediately tried to rebut the charges and got upset. Mr. Lokesh immediately called the meeting of some key workers of the committee and informed about the issue of sleeping of workers in third shift. Mr. Daya Shankar a senior worker strongly reacted to the allegation and said that there is no such issue of complaint related to sleeping because it is a common understanding between the line managers and the shop floor people that in first half line managers will sleep and second half the workers will sleep. However, this was a shocking feedback to Mr. Lokesh, but this is also the fact that in many industries, such malpractice is going on as an unwritten rule.
Mr. Lokesh has instantly rejected the contention of Mr. Daya Shankar with a view that he might dilute the issue of such practices of sleeping during working hours. However, he was concerned and soon called the meeting of HODs, and shared the feedback of Daya Shankar. As it was expected, the HODs have out rightly rejected the feedback and allegations of Daya Shankar that managers were also sleeping.
Mr. Lokesh given a strong statement before the HODs that if any line manager is found in sleeping condition during working hours he will even not hesitate to terminate the services of such person. He has updated the situation and his views to the Head of Operations and CEO also.
Next day Mr. Lokesh came in the third shift and talked to all the line mangers, and cautioned them for the shop floor discipline and advised them to ensure no sleeping during working hours.
Here, Mr. Lokesh seems to be a person of self - centred leadership. He could have collected feedback from his team members and could have delegated the team members for the night round. He should have studied and assessed the situation and evaluated the feedback of Mr. Daya Shankar. His instant involvement in the issue has given a kind of threat to the people and representatives of workers who also decided to prove their feedback.
One night in third shift, Mr. Daya Shankar, called Mr. Lokesh and he rushed immediately, where he saw that one line manger Mr. Sushil was sleeping comfortably, and Mr. Lokesh awakened him. Since Mr. Sushil was caught red handed in front of Mr. Daya Shankar, Mr. Lokesh was speech less and found himself embarrassed.
Next day Mr. Lokesh discussed the incidence in management committee. Mr. Lokesh wanted to terminate the services of Mr. Sushil and he advised CEO accordingly. Mr. Nagwade the head of operation was not in a favour of such harsh decision and wanted to give a chance to Mr. Sushil based on his past proven performance. Here, as a HR head Mr. Lokesh should have thought on principle of natural law of justice and the quantum of punishment in proportion of misconduct. Sleeping is not a major misconduct. When he had a feedback of practices of sleeping on mutual understanding basis then he should have strategized in a different way. Mr. Lokesh should have investigated how the mutual understanding was formed. Why it could not be in the knowledge of senior mangers? Why the line Managers have rejected the plea of mutual understating on sleeping in the meeting. Mr. Nagwade, the head of operation should have practical approach and he should have refrained by giving general statement of product rejection and its poor quality unless he has some specific examples. Mr. Lokesh has exhibited an emotional leadership and without thinking on other side of his action, he has taken decision of terminating the services of Mr. Sushil. He has not even given opportunity of being heard to Mr. Sushil. Finally, with consent of CEO he served the letter of termination to Mr. Sushil. His action has created a negativity among the rest of the managers in the plant. This was a kind of unplanned harsh decision. No one in the plant liked it and Mr. Lokesh was left alone with the decision.
Mr. Lokesh found himself in an odd situation when he went home and saw that Mr. Sushil was seating at his home with his wife. Both husband & wife have requested Mr. Lokesh to reconsider the decision as Mr. Sushil was taking care of his ill wife in the day and due to this reason, he was found sleeping in the night. Mr. Lokesh was more in pain and in strange situation when wife of Mr. Sushil reminded Mr. Lokesh that she had been her batch mate in the college. Somehow, they both left house of Mr. Lokesh with a request to him for the re-consideration of the decision. Mr. Lokesh remained restless in the whole night and was in dilemma for the next possible step. As he was more disturbed when he came to know that his wife was his classmate and her family is going to suffer because of his decision of termination of services of Mr. Sushil.
Undoubtedly, the action of Mr. Lokesh was harsh & hasty. Now he has only option to discuss the factual situation before the CEO, request for him for the re-consideration of the decision on the ground of genuineness of the cause of incidence. Lastly, he should sit with the Head of operation and CEO and discuss about the engagement of people at works. The operational efficiency and the machine utilisation should be re measured so that engaged people should not get an opportunity to sleep. Management should work on robust process of measurement of productivity and the utilisation of people at works. The same should be discussed with the representatives during negotiations of wage settlement also.
The basic principle is that engaged employee is the productive employee and productive employee is the satisfied employee at works which not only creates the harmony at works but also develop the sense of belongingness and the ownership as people feel that their efforts are connected with the business results.