As cliché as it may sound, the case at hand can be best summarized as "all that glitters is not gold". The case "better late than never" reinforces the classical debate of soft and hard encapsulating all imaginable aspects of life. It also underscores importance of domain knowledge and specific functional competencies. It highlights the tension created by pull between short term survival goals and long term sustainable vision.
1. The question is not about 'OR' but 'AND'. The philosophy in business, especially where tangible products are involved, cannot be trusted to just one touch point. A product and the user co-create the journey that starts with purchase of product against a price. The price is just not the cost of product and a margin of profit but a promise of 'value' around customer expectation and delight. First impression may not be the last impression, but it is certainly a lasting impression. Out of the alternatives available in a shop shelf, the packaging of the product may result in favourable action of purchase, but it is the complete experience of using the product that determines repeat purchase and long term brand loyalty. Evidence favors that a loyal customer is half as expensive as acquiring a new customer. Also lifetime value of a customer for a particular product category offsets major costs in creating the customer. Loyal customers not only contribute to dollar sales of product under question, they also contribute to acceptance and sales of new products under the same brand or from same basket. A good business strategy will transcend myopic, one-time-gain lures and design strategies around sustainable business models that ensure developing positive attitudes around products, brands and company. If packaging is prelude, content quality is the song. If packaging is trailer, the content quality is the film. If packaging is the blurb text, content quality is the book. Whether the customers enjoy the song or the film or the book will be prompted by the prelude, trailer or blurb text but whether they will consume it completely and look forward to more, will be determine beyond surficial prompts.
2. Full marks to Mohit, for not only timely and humble acceptance of his dysfunctional decisions that boomeranged, but also his courage of conviction to seek help of "the best person" who had been at the helm of affairs, although, he is no more with the company (and could be rather with a competitor in the same industry). It takes valor, wisdom, and humility to accept failures, seek feedback, act on feedback and ask for help where one finds himself ineffectual.
Only time knows what holds in future, but if Mohit continues to handle the HR department, he needs to learn the soft and hard HRM. He needs Rohitash's people-insight. He needs appreciation of skills and competencies of those who can be part of organisation. If Mohit decides to go back to his focus area of marketing and hands over the HR portfolio to someone who knows the nuances, even then Rohitash's acumen for people-matters would enable Mohit develop functional appreciation for other verticals, many of which will also have relevance for marketing.
3. Mohit is an intelligent, perceptive and sensible professional. He understood, quite on time, that since Tejinder and he have similar attitudes and opinions, he will not get an impartial and balanced perspective on problems at hand. They both suffer from similarity error and halo effect which creates perception bias. Thus, involving Tejinder will result in status quo and would not address the root cause of the problem. Also, while discussing the fall out of appraisals which was guided by Tejinder, Mohit found there was not much value addition. Both come from related background (marketing/advertising/ and sales) and thus have a narrow focused approach to situation. The particular situation at hand had transcended beyond a functional area and was impacting, cultural denominations like trust, transparency and authenticity. It was important at this junction, that the lens be expanded to include people perspective, expert opinion and wider vision.
4. Given the fact that Mohit is already aware, has clearly identified the problem and has done a root cause analysis there are several options that he can explore, for instance;
a) One of the easiest and best corrective measures would be to onboard Rohitash and Anant again in the company. It might mean offering better designation, perks or a simple request. Rohitash in turn will ensure bringing back at least few key employees who left because their person vision got misaligned with the organisation because of leadership change. It will also ensure that from here on, right people are inducted in the organisation.
b) Alternatively he can talk Rohitash into an advisory role with retainership style terms of reference.
c) Mohit can also consider (if Rohitash resists to join back) hiring a HR manager, in consultation with Rohitash, to address people issues.
e) For long term vision, Mohit should also organize development programmes and learning opportunities for senior management cadre especially in cross functional appreciation and how different functional expertise not just production and marketing contribute to bottom lines.
In a wider perspective the present situation in the company can serve as an opportunity to endeavour an Organisation Change and Development (OC&D) initiative which will accelerate the organisation to new orbits of performance. This can be done with Rohitash as change agent, HR as strategic business partner and gear up organisation to a higher level of growth and evolution. Re-inviting (old employees), Refreshing (attitudes, opinions), Re-engineering (processes and systems), Restructuring (organograms, jobs) and Re-orienting (priorities and strategies) can be the 5 R theme for an OC&D project.
Dr. Tanjul Saxena, Consultant, META AIDE, Jaipur