Below is a fictionalized case study that presents dilemma faced by leaders in real organizations. Also given is recommended solution to the problems. This has been published in Business Manager Magazine August 2014 edition.
1) According to you, what is the root cause of the problem in the Malhotra episode and who is to be blamed for his present troubles?
- The HR Policy of X-Look, a fast-growing textile company provided clear guidelines on how the HR should function like direct recruitment for entry-level categories and senior managerial positions to be filled through internal promotions.
- Mr. Malhotra, a topper in production engineering, joined as a management trainee through campus interviews. He would be absorbed as an Assistant Manager in any one of the engineering departments after completion of his one year probationary period as per the T&C of his employment.
- Malhotra excelled in his traineeship period in the R&D Dept by his exemplary behavior and performance. Mr. Ravi Shankar, his manager was also impressed by Malhotra's contribution recommended Malhotra's name to Management for the post of Design Manager when it fell vacant. This was duly executed by the HR Dept. and Malhotra was appointed as the Design Manager surpassing the HR policies by treating it as an exception. Here the problems started for both Malhotra and X-Look Company.
- The promotion of Malhotra could have been handled in a better way. He was deserving the promotion as highlighted in the case study. The HR Dept. should have consulted all stakeholders before executing the management’s decision and communicated it with appropriate reasons. This could have got the commitment of the people first and their behaviour change thereafter could have been avoided and, hopefully, their attitude too. This was found lacking. Hence the internal dissent started ultimately leading to back-tracking of the decision for Malhotra who eventually left the company.
- It is also the Management’s responsibility for setting the policies of the company and ensuring that it’s practices do not have an adverse impact on day to day operations or violate ethical standards.
- One can understand how demoralizing it would have been for Malhotra to find himself removed from his new position & how it would be perceived and interpreted by everyone in the company including his trainee batchmates whom he had surpassed by way of his work performance to promotion. Malhotra resigned from his job voluntarily, quit the firm and found his career to be in shambles for which he is to be also partly blamed by way of his actions. Agreed that the actions of Management of X-Look Company were dilly-dallying, but Malhotra before taking such a serious decision could have given it another thought.
- Malhotra could have had one-to-one meetings with the Management and asked for his future career prospects in the organization – whether he as an outstanding performer will get another promotion opportunity. If the chances indeed were there, then Malhotra should have continued in another role assigned to him in the company for some time. Malhotra could have also spoken to Mr. Ravi Shankar, his manager for guidance.
- Malhotra should realize that resigning from the job and quitting the company is not the solution. Even if he were to do so, he will have to start afresh in whichever other company, he finds a job next. Chances are that prosective recruiters may also question his removal from Managerial position in X-Look Company. They will not listen to negative reasons about X-Look Company from him like internal dissent, lack of co-operation from other co-workers, etc…Doubts may arise about the capability of Malhotra although that may not be the case.
- This was not a win-win situation for both Malhotra & X-Look Company who in their process of not handling this situation properly lost out an efficient and enterprising employee and Malhotra found his promising career to be derailed.
- Looking back at the Malhotra episode, X-Look Company realized that it had not properly considered the human element involved in all its decisions concerning him and was merely guided by the mechanical elements.
- In order to better achieve its overall goals, the company should create internal partnerships like labor-management-cooperation to improve flexibility, responsiveness, and knowledge sharing amongst its employees. Successful partnerships create a basis for mutual trust and respect and serve as a means for adapting to change.
- Break old bureaucratic rules and policies that prevent or inhibit high-performance work towards achieving company’s goals which was in the case of Malhotra. In doing so, the employee's will be freed from bureaucratic silliness and the Management of the company will find great energy and support from its employee's. The decision to promote Malhotra was right as he fit all the eligibility criteria but the policies and the rules of the company did not support it.
- X-Look Company must provide appropriate services, benefits, and policies to enhance employee well-being, satisfaction and motivation. Place special emphasis on a variety of approaches used to satisfy employees with differing needs and expectations in order to reduce attrition and increase motivation. Examples include personal and career counseling, career development and employability services, helping employees develop learning objectives and plans. This could have been done in case of Malhotra and thus pacified him and retained him. But lack of positive assurance action from the company acted as a deterrent for Malhotra which eventually led him to take the decision.