Madhu.T.K
Industrial Relations And Labour Laws
Navarun
Regional Performance Director

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I am here for perspectives from members who might have better ideas to solve a situation I am currently tackling. I lead our regional business unit based in S'pore with several account managers from different back grounds. The org structure is such that all functions report into me except our HR Manager, who reports into my boss, who is the Regional VP, based in India (and a very hard man to reach). Functionally, I look after every department in the site and my boss expects me to take care of HR issues even without the formal reporting into me, (a perspective not very clearly shared with our HR manager) Though I have tried to change that structure to, HR having a dotted reporting into me, for ease of functioning, however I don’t see the situation changing. I have learnt these are business realities and we all live by such exceptions. I am big proponent of 'Y' theory and believe & trust my people. After I took charge of the Operations about a year back, I brought about a lot of people related changes like 'work-from-home', 'casual dressing', 'walk the talk' concepts in a rather conservative environment. This has given us great results as my managers have just a few less things to worry about and focus on their core jobs of growing the business. A big focus on ‘approachability’ has improved ‘trust’. Lengthy ‘processes’ have shortened thus improving ‘speed of execution’. Over all we are doing great operationally.

However, all is not ‘good’ and ‘happy’. With every passing day 'issues' have risen. ‘Issues’ that are otherwise non-issues in an environment of great intra-function ‘working relationship’. The culture change has brought about a ‘culture shock’ to some, who were part of the ‘legacy culture’. Though the 'shocked' people have been able to change in quite a few aspects, but some of the deeper ‘legacy beliefs’ are causing the conflicts. Everyday I spend a good amount of time hearing ‘issues’ from both my ops team and from the HR team on simple things (which other wise would have been non-issues). According to the Ops team, the HR team “takes too much time”, “sit over cases”, “doesn’t understand Client priorities”, “too inflexible with policies” …etc and according to HR, the Ops team “doesn’t understand legal / compliance issues”, “too short sighted”, “only concerned about client satisfaction, with no regards for policies” …etc.

The problem is, these daily work-conflicts are now slowly becoming personal conflicts and people are getting hurt on both sides. All this while I have kept a neutral stand and have tried to solve the cases through facilitating candid dialogues between the Ops and HR team; however I can't stay neutral for long as I can’t be seen as an “in-active leader” by my Ops team, at the same time can’t have issues escalated very conveniently by the HR Manager to (our) boss, the Regional VP. This too puts me in an uncomfortable position, as I don't want to be seen as someone who can’t take care of things… (and these are situations when everyone 'up-there' forgets the Org Structures…) This is stuff what case studies are made off and I am living it... I need your fresh perspectives to solve the situation. Thanks, Navarun

This is just an issue formed by unfair functional clash. I have seen a similar situation in Kerala ( please let me not disclose the name of the company) where the company was put in a mess leading to an undesirable lock out! The matter was very simple, that HR was very strict in implementing policies and 'notices' and the marketing was rushing ahead with orders. The attitude of the Top Management was that they always say about implementation of policies but they never support the persons who are responsible for implementation but only back the marketing team. The board offers attractive package to marketing but the finance department rejects for want of proper communications. Well, these are functional conflicts which the employees should be aware of. The hidden agenda of the management may not be known to these guys who spoil their inter personal relations in each an every second they spend in the office. It is quite natural in any organisation like ego clash and bossism. But when we track out a fact that none of us will remain here for n number of years or it is only a place for us to halt and a platform to take off to a higher position, we may feel that why shall there be so stringent formalities. I had an opportunity to counsel as an outsider to a grievance committee. Though nothing resulted in the formal sitting, there was change when the two were held outside the committee. I didn't find any theory to be suitable in such clashes but I explained the situation through which each of them were working; the mood of them even after returning home; and so on. The HRs may be more proactive (or rather tries to be so) since they are reporting directly to the Chief of the organisation. But there is a limit for a good relationship to continue. Convince them that Marketing and other operations are the core of the business and for the success of the same some kind of compromise is required at any cost. Appraise the HR that being rigid they are not going to gain any thing very special but if the business is lost every thing is lost. When the business is lost then what is the scope for good HR? Regards, Madhu.T.K
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