Article (March-2020)


M.D. should work on regaining the trust and confidence of workers

Anil Malik

Designation : -   Management Consultant HR & IR Strategies

Organization : -  AM HR Solutions, Indore


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Mr. Kulvinder Singh the vice president HR at corporate office of the FMCG Company has a firm belief of old school of thought that workers are ultimately workers and they are not going to be changed by any means when matter is particularly related to increase in remunerations and benefits.

Despite of known fact that, formation of works committee is the law full requirement Under Industrial Dispute Act 1947and the main purpose of creating the Works committee is; to develop a sense of partnership between the employer and workers, Mr. Kulvinder was of the opinion that, workers should not be provided such forum where they can be united.

Mr. Kulvinder is right logically and has firm opinion to take action on the workers who raised demand letter like union representatives and was of the opinion that financial demands cannot be discussed in works committee. He found this as failure of local HR head and expressed his deep annoyance on him. He was not interested to initiate negotiations due to unanticipated fear of spread to other locations. He had his fix mindset that company will give raise as per established conventions of the organization.

 Directing to arrange a meeting with works committee members was the utter wrong move of Mr. Kulvinder which both the business head and location HR Head expressed to him and said that your involvement may send wrong signals to workers.

Mr. Kulvinder could not won over the answers of Mr. Mahesh and decided to adopt the policy of divide and rule by announcing the recruitment of supervisors where workers could also be promoted.

The Business head and Location HR Head was not aware about any such recruitment drive so they remained quiet, as this was the undesirable and a dangerous move. However, Mr. Kulvinder explained his strategic move about identifications of such potential and influential persons of leadership caliber who can convince workers and help in defusing the move of wage rise by charter of demand.

He was so confident on his thought process and forgot the basic principle that "once you promote a worker to the level of supervisor you may lose a good worker and create a bad supervisor if the person doesn't have enough caliber to lead a team of workers...

Mahesh in his new role instantly got the acceptance and recognized among the workers. However, nowhere one-sided approach works be it management or be it workers. Mr. Mahesh should have understood this fact.  One side he was not able to gain the support of his Managers and other side he was losing confidence of his people day by day.  With change of roles and responsibility, people found him away from them and this situation ultimately resulted into low productivity, failure in achievement of targets and increasing trend in quality rejections.

Mr. Kulvinder again did another mistake and after getting reports from the plant, he advised to Business Head and the local HR Head to transfer Mr. Mahesh at another unit. He was the 
opinion that this way he will be removed from the scene and situation will become normal. He was also thinking that Mr. Mahesh would not accept the transfer and he would make the way for his removal from the organization. Again, this was wrong perception of Mr. Kulvinder towards Mr. Mahesh.

Mr. Kulvinder missed to realize that leadership creates leader with trust and delegations. He ignored the voice of local HR Head and Business Head who were actually accountable for their roles and responsibilities. However, it is also equally fact that there is no meaning of any role without authority and accountability. Mr Kulvinder should have acted like a mentor and supported to the unit and staff. Nevertheless, he played the dirty game and tried to establish his leadership in an authoritative manner, which went wrong. Sitting at the top of the ladder, he tried to resolve the conflicts without taking into confidence to the people on the ground.

The Business Head and local HR Head also did not play and justified their positions. They have not shown their resistance at any level when they did not agree with the action, involvement and decision of the Corporate HR Head Mr. Kulvinder. However, practically I must say often it happens in the organization, particularly where communications channel are not open and review mechanism of the organization is not so effective.

Elevation of Mr. Mahesh and his other co-workers who were involved in submission of demand letter for wage rise was also become the strategic failure. Once they were elevated, they should be given time to settle in new role and instead of coaching them, the mangers have enhanced their expectation and made them responsible for the low productivity, low targets, and high rejections. Further, the transfer of Mr. Mahesh gave wrong signals to the workers, which resulted into formation and registration of union at both the places.

In an organization, Leadership needs to be transparent and open. Instead of tricks and tact one should adopt the policy of firmness and fairness. One should not deny what is genuine and should never accept which is not fair. It is a diagnostic approach of thinking.

Theory of needs is common to all be it management or the workers. Today's time is not to sit across the table for the resolution of the conflicts but the time is to move by joining hands and solve the issues by understanding of each other needs and mature dealing.

Managing Director of the company can defuse the situation by respecting and recognizing the decision of the workers of formation of unions and try to regain the trust and confidence of people in management. Similarly managers at local level should also be developed, trained and empowered for enhancing their communication with people and resolve the conflicts at local level. When conflict is managed effectively, it can bring new levels of understanding, empathy and trust among the people.