Management Consultant
Rajat Joshi
Hr Consulting ,trainer -creative Thinking
Principal Hr Consultant (ohs&w)
Hr Consultant
Comp & Ben Prof.

Dear all,

I am facing a typical HR problem in my organization and seek your inputs on the same..

Last year we hired a person to Head the program & we have come across the scenario that the senior most person A of our organization who at one time aspired to hold that position are at loggerheads.

In my meetings they both clarified that they cannot work with each other..they have distrust & have lost faith in each other.

The new head is crucial for the company in view upcoming projects and he has tried really best to accomodate the person A which has been misinterpreted...

Also this situation is compounded by the subtle support to A by previous Head who was sacked by the organization..

My problem is how to resolve the situation..

At this point of time..we are backing the Head at the same time do not want to lose the person A as well...worse to worse person A may quit..who is useful resource for the organization..

My ideas were:-

* Make them talk to each other in a closed room to resolve their issues..

* Send them to a outbound trip together to know each other well..

Any suggestions/ideas would be welcomed!!


Rajat Joshi

From India, Pune
Rajat, Sorry to be blunt, but person A needs to be told to lift his game, unless he can identify legitimate and significant concerns with the new head. If there are real concerns, then of course they need to be dealt with.
However, it sounds as if Person A is engaging in sabotage. This should not be rewarded. I'm not suggesting giving him a "dresing down", but a simple statement that "you are required to work cooperatively with the new head and should consider other options if you don't feel able to do this."
My belief is that NO-ONE is indispensable, no matter how skilled. Their unique skills are completely undermined and worth little if they are not prepared to engage in a team approach. The harm far outweighs the good.
Offer to help him pack his bags!

From Australia, Ballarat
Thanks ...
Guess that's the only option left as of now..as you rightly said that no one is indispensable!!....he has focus his work in synergy with the Head..
My point is how do we change this attitude?...this year person A ..next year could be somebody else?...

From India, Pune
I agree with [b]numeruno[/b "NO-ONE is indispensable". Person A has without doubt been led to believe (by the previous Head) that (s)he was next in line for the Head position when it became available. If that's the case, the situation should be explained to A by the person(s) who selected the new Head.

In addition, Person A should be made aware that (s)he is a valued part of the organization, albeit not indispensable, and that (s)he has an obligation to the new Head, as well as to the organization to do her/his job and to aid, assist and to offer advice to the Head, when it is appropriate.

Person A should also be counselled as to the ramifications of sabotage, professionally and personally.

"How to change this attitude...." I believe that it is human nature to feel betrayed after being shunted aside by management, in favor of a new face. Especially, after giving good and faithful service over a period of time. It destroys dignity, ego and commitment while building resentment and bitterness.

Was (s)he even considered/interviewed for the position? Did management think Person A was too closely aligned with the former HEad so as to continue in the same vein, without new ideas or concepts?

Employees should not be led to believe, or assume, that they are "next in line" for future openings. If there is not one in place, a Policy Statement from the head of the organization clearly stating that the company seeks to recruit, select and promote on the basis of organizational needs, experience and skill sets should be disseminated to all employees to allay any expectations.

The lack of recognition and appreciation on the company's part, if that was the case, should be rectified as part of the buy-in to be a loyal and conscientious subordinate. A simple "chin up, carry on" from someone Person A respects will go a long way.

In addition, the development and implementation of a succession plan for Upper/Mid Level positions may be necessary to groom candidates who are deemed to be exceptional (indispensable?) to the organization and to provide "face saving" (alternative career path) options to others.

From United States,
I am assuming that person A is reporting to the NEW HEAD.

If you have not done a personality profile of these two
persons, please do a personality profile.
THEN bring them together, and show them
-manageability of interpersonal relations.
THEN, give them a week.
If that fails, then NEW HEAD will have to decide to retain
person A or not.

From India, Mumbai
hello rajat,
firstly i would like to say thanx for all your valuable entries.
i just passed out my BBA with a specialization in HR, and keep interest in this field so would love to learn a lot from you all.
as per your problrm is concerned as guess A is having a ego preblem as you mentioned he is good performer and is working with the company for long, he may aspire to be the head and is unable accept someone else heading him , and that is the reason he is creating problems with all the heads whoever is coming.
i feel he needs to be counselled on that part, it will better if you personally motivate him and say a few inspiring words which would boost his morale and he will feel important, that might help.
please let me know if you liked my idea or not.
i would like to recive your feedback to learn.
my email id is
sudeshna (kolkata)

From India, Calcutta
Hi, I read everybody'd replies and suggestions. Interesting

My question, if A is not convinced that he was treated fairly and that the new head is a better choice, does anyone think that he is gonna stay. If I was in his place (as it happened to me in the last job), I'd have already started working on my plan B.

How can you convince an employee who is a hi performer in his present job that he is not fit for the next position. Was there any attempt to identify his disqualifying factors and give him a fair chance to show his mettle?

I am sure that if A with his present experience, can aim for the position he has been denied, with another employer.

By not recognising good performance and rewarding it, the company should be prepared for loosing this guy. The hidden message to A is very clear.

I do not know A's circumstances, unless he has other reasons to swallow this insult, he should be planning to move by now before you try to show him his place.

These are my inputs based on experience. I simply moved (in 6 months time) and got a better position.

Dear all,

I thank all of you for your valuable inputs and comments are in Bold..

Hi Bill,

We tried that and quite a few times he was warned for keeping in touch with the previous Head: on some occasions he has insulted the new Head ..from HR perspectives it is a clear case of misreading ach other’s intentions.

Also the with the exit of A , there would be no strong leader in event of Head quitting the organization…

We did that ..but there is a strong undercurrents – infact he has a job offer which is less than his current package by 50% - yet he is ready to go.

I agree..a lesson well learnt..in a hard way..

In addition, the development and implementation of a succession plan for Upper/Mid Level positions may be necessary to groom candidates who are deemed to be exceptional (indispensable?) to the organization and to provide "face saving" (alternative career path) options to others.


Bill Kuzmin


paladinhrc yahoo.com

Hi Leo,

Thanks for your valuable advice ..

Personality profile:-would you please explain as how this is to be used. In a way this would highlight to them as how they can arrive at working together in synergy..

Hi Sudeshna,

Thanks, I did that – infact I conducted four training programs interwining the major prevalent issues viz





Personally counseling – is limited by the fact is that it is sugar coated pill..rarely employees go by it..


Yes, we did that …we failed in implementing in earnest manner…

Very true ..i agree with you…we HR professionals have a lot to learn..



From India, Pune
"quite a few times he was warned for keeping in touch with the previous Head.." "...on some occasions he has insulted the new Head.."

Any Discipline beyond "warnings"? Insubordinate conduct is serious breach of workplace decorum. "A" should have been at the least given a small suspension. Combined with "other warning", could be the basis for termination.

" with the exit of A..no strong leader in event of Head quitting the organization…"

Legitimate Company concern, but what would it do if for some unforeseen circumstances, A was seriously injured, and not able to function for a period of time (say one year) at a time when Head was lured away by a competitor.

"...in fact he has a job offer which is less than his current package by 50% - yet he is ready to go..."

How can you be so sure? Why hasn't he left already? Could it be a Bluff? Consider if he did leave.. At his new employer he would have Less responsibility..lower pay scale..Loss of prestige...starting over in a new organization...unless he has a mentor to oversee his career path he (an "unknown element") would have to compete with "known quantities"...loyalty would be suspect....labeled as a "prima donna" who will pout and bluster if not given own way....potential disruptive influence.

Seems to me that employee A is manipulating the Company inasmuch as he is seen as "indispensible". He is pushing the envelope by ignoring warning from superiors, insubordinate conduct toward direct supervisor (Head), taking advantage of Company concern that he is a "strong leader" necessary in the event that Head left the organization and is holding the prospect of a "job offer" over the head of management.

If "A's" conduct were allowed to continue, it would irreparably harm the organization. Head, feeling frustrated and strained in relations with A, would start looking for another position. "A" gets promoted by default. "A" wins. At which point he is untouchable. The previous incidents of insubordination and failure to comply would be expunged. He would be able to do as he pleased without fear of retaliation from the company. Such a posture quickly spreads throughout the organization, like poison, and has the same effect - the demise of authority and with it chaos will reign .

My recommendation, for what it is worth, - call "A's" bluff. Accept his resignation (which has already been prepared, except for his signature).

Let him go to his new job and wish him well.


From United States,
this seems to be a very interesting case.... and the insights provided by the group members have been real food for thought atleast for me...
after reading all the solutions provided.. was just wondering when we say no employee is indispensible why are we spending so much of time and energy on one employee who seems to be trying to hold the organization at a ransom.... in the immediate short run it could create an environment of animosity (for lack of a milder term) in the department.and it could have adverse ripple effect in the entire organization.
with due respect to all the previous probable solutions, can we apply a simplistic approach.... do a SWOT analysis of the situation or probably a tabulation of the pros and cons of retaining him or letting him go. and whichever side weighs heavily one could probably go for that...
please give your views
warm regards

From India, Agartala

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