How should the Personnel Department of a company handle a senior officer belonging to one of the Production Departments who is in hand-in-gloves (without proof but evident) with some Union Leaders and supporting their claim for excess manpower even though we may be in the opinion that there is sufficient manpower who are not being utilized properly. Other than transferring him outright, what else can be done on this issue and also to prevent such things happening in the future.
Thanking you in anticipation.

From India, Purulia
Dear JayDG,
Have you mapped the entire production process? If not then first do it. Find out how much time each process it takes and also how many persons are required to execute each process. Going further, you may conduct the time and motion studies as well. This is very old and proven method of manpower analysis.
Dinesh V Divekar

From India, Bangalore

Thanks Dinesh. Time & Motion study was a good methodology but no longer relevant today specially in multi-tasked complex process specially in a very large manufacturing company. No, such a study is not possible in this case here. But yes, it does happen that for similar process in other companies, globally & in India, lesser number of people run the operations even when compared with current manpower.

The real problem lies not in the manpower issue like I posted. The issue is the person himself. And the problem lies there. Its not the Union too, which is the problem. THis person whilst he doesent take a very demanding stance & keeps quiet during meeting, he instigates the unions whilst the Unions themselves never asked till he came into the picture. He indulges in these types of anti-company activities to put his collegues into problems.

The problem isnt the manpower issue or the Union, its this person - who is the problem. Again, its quite possible to bring this person to the ground but the question is how to go about it.

From India, Purulia
Dear JayDG,

You have written that "Thanks Dinesh. Time & Motion study was a good methodology but no longer relevant today specially in multi-tasked complex process specially in a very large manufacturing company. No, such a study is not possible in this case here."

I am little surprised at the outright rejection. Multi-tasking cannot be impediment to the time and motion studies. On what parameters you assess the relevance of this method, would you mind to share? If you had done this study long ago, you would have started giving prominence to the processes rather than persons. With non-availability of the processes, person has acquired importance.

Famous company, McDonald has measured their work activities. Unit of measurement is not just minutes but seconds as well. Famous company Bosch (erstwhile, MICO) has measured 150,000 production processes. Yes, I mean 150,000 and there is no typing error. However, if you dismiss importance of the time and motion studies in a flash, it tantamount to throwing baby with bath water.

By the way, would you mind to share what is the complexity of your production processes? Secondly, how do you measure the efficiency of your plant? What KPIs do you use? You may check the following link:


Anyway, other members may contribute their opinions.


Dinesh V Divekar

From India, Bangalore

Dear Dinesh,

I did not outrightly reject your suggestion, I gave a background but I mentioned what ACTUALLY was the problem.

First & foremost. we know where the problem is emanating from and hence our focus in rectifying that corner. Again, we work in a different way. Its not possible to yeild to the fancy & whims of the Unions, every time they raise an issue. We know what issues to discuss and what to reject. Over 50 years of tough IR experience under difficult circumstances in a left run state has taught us that. Next, we get our information - and I mean all information. In this case, the unions dont want any Industrial Enginnering study. Think of it like "testing the water". We have identified the problem and the problem is the person. This thread is asking "on ways to deal with this person".

Next, to answer to your questions in detail would mean derailing this thread. So I will answer in brief. But before I answer even in brief, I would like to mention that studies have been conducted earlier in all production department but now our company assesses that manpower deployment based on T&M study in a chemical process unit with millions of variables (none of which is incorrect) would not lead us to the optimum number or even the correct number.

1. [would you mind to share what is the complexity of your production processes?].

The company is a huge fully integrated Steel Plant (with over 53 full works department) and the department concerned is Coke Ovens & Coal Chemicals. No. of permanent workmen = 1200 + equal No. of Contract Labour if not more. The No. of processes just for the Coal to Coke conversion subprocess would perhaps be more than 500, if not more, excluding all maintenance activities.

2. [how do you measure the efficiency of your plant?]

Perhaps you meant just the efficiency of the Coal Coke conversion since the department itself has several parameters based on the large number of products & By-Products. These efficiency parameters are the same of that of those facilities of ISP, globally and in India and widely published.

3. [What KPIs do you use?]

Again, each department has different KPIs to measure their performance, grouped under production, maintenance, power, energy etc etc. Same for any ISP.

We have implemented the ERP system which is a level 4 system and we found that the SCM module wasnt giving us the desired results specially in the "process system", though for the "products system" it had its advantages. For a process industry, a high level 3 system like the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) is needed integrated upwards with a level 4 system. This is being implemented in stages in all our sister units. Because of the variability (which runs into millions), a MES system provides more substance though it is multiple times costlier than the costly ERP system itself. Its because of the variability like this, that Time & Motion study does not have too much relevance in a company like ours, specially in process departments like Coke Ovens, Sinter Plant, Blast Furnaces etc.

Coming back to the main issue, that is this person, any suggestion will be appreciated. Thanks & Regards.

From India, Purulia
Dear JayDG,

While it is important to keep labour union in good humour, it is ridiculous to expect that production person of the level of officer level cadre is in cahoots with union. Since you are so particular about issue related to one person there are little different ways to handle him.

What am I going to suggest borders on insidiousness. There are so many issues in production like poor quality or excess consumption of raw material, machine downtime and so on. First issue verbal warning on this or that occasion. After a month or so, issue him warning letter for some fault. This could possibly disturb him mentally and he may commit yet another mistake. It could be about his interpersonal behaviour. Issue him yet another warning letter. One more mistake and it can become ground for you to remove him from his present department. Transfer him to either quality or purchase. If it is feasible to send him out of plant the better.

Another way is to organise inter-departmental transfers in the garb of "Organisational Re-structuring". However, this can work provided there are half dozen or more transfers.

In simple words what am I trying to say is to change his department come what may. What is said in Chanakya-niti - "Saam, Daam, Danda and Bhed" that you need to adopt. You need to pursue the matter till its logical conclusion i.e. "Bhed".

Mr Raj Kumar Hansdah has worked in Steel Industry. His inputs could be vital. I will private message to him for his valuable contribution.s

P.S.: - I am into training and development. I conduct soft skills training and training on purchase and inventory management extensively. If you wish to know more about it then you may click the respective hyperlink.


Dinesh V Divekar

From India, Bangalore

Dear Dinesh,
I liked your suggestions. I too agree that he should be aware that the Management is aware of his behavior.
These things do happen. Specially in a govt sector where there is a lot of job security. Its not the 1st time such things have happened. The last time such a thing happened (and I am aware of it), I wasnt in this section. The officer was transferred on that occassion. Finally things landed up in court and the employee later withdrew. Unions leaders in order to improve their status do resort to such things. But again, they spill it out in front of other officers when they dont get some personal favours met. In the long run, the officer doesent achieve anything.
Another thing I wanted to mention is that we dont REALLY try and find out the REASON for such behavior. This is a big lacuna on our part and I agree.
Really appreciate your help. Thanks & Regards

From India, Purulia
Dear JayDG

I sincerely appreciate the apt suggestions given by Mr. Divekar.

At the outset, you have already clarified that the demand for excess manpower is not the real issue.

I readily accept this, as the manpower requirement in an ISP is done after an elaborate and comprehensive study by IED and other allied departments, as well as the technology provider and is finalized after consultation with the Union. Once the Sanctioned Manpower is fixed; its difficult to get it enhanced.

Any mid-stream requirement needs to be justified on the basis of addition or modifications in the process or products.

The only variable factor can be Contractual Labour deployment for the purpose of Cleaning, Periodic maintenance or during Capital repairs.

Since, manpower is not the issue here; but the association of the Manager with the Union and the resulting nuisance-value in terms of general discipline, productivity and employee morale.

You have not mentioned the level/grade of the manager. How is the HOD of CO&CCD treating this matter. What is his opinion ? Did he bring this matter to the notice of Personnel Deptt. overtly or covertly ? Or, is it just an internal matter within the Pers. deptt. ??

In case the matter has not been initiated or nor in the cognition of the HOD; then he should be taken into confidence; as CO & CCD is the first vital link in the production process; the output and quality of Coke and Coke Oven gas would affect all production parameters starting from the Blast Furnaces to downstream Rolling Mills. As such, the HOD should rightly be concerned, and his suggestion and support would be necessary.

You have said that he has been transferred earlier; but the result did not turn out to be good. Where was he transferred to ?? In a different department or outside the Plant ??

Under the circumstances, transfer seems to be a good option as already suggested earlier.

In which section is he working ??

Whether in Production or in Mechanical or Electrical maintenance ??

He needs to be moved from his usual place. For example, if he is a Mechanical Engineer in mechanical maintenance, then he can be put in Production, or vice-versa.

If he is a Metallurgical or Electrical engineer, then he can be assigned to the Material Procurement or Training/ Safety/Quality sections.

Another usual place (though personally I do not approve of this), in case of outside department transfer is to put such persons in the Training, O & M, SQC or Materials department; or even in Township services; even if he is not transferred out-stations or to other sister plants.

The idea is to remove the rotten apple from the lot.

It might be a good idea to look into his last three Appraisal Ratings and accordingly action taken on the basis of Performance issues, which already includes job-rotation and transfers.

Also, one needs enlist the support of the Officers'' Association too, and some how bring the matter of his relationship with the Union.

There are several ways and approaches to handle such situation. Every subsequent step leading towards a progressive disciplinary approach.

Finally, his action can be put under surveillance and any delinquent behaviour be dealt promptly by issuing Warning Letters to start with and then increasing in severity. For this purpose, one can start with PUNCTUALITY and ATTENDANCE and then his job performance.

In general discipline management, there is no one-shot tried and tested formula; but several approaches and alternatives which can be used depending on the person and situation. Sometimes, just a mere COUNSELLING from HOD and thee Personnel deptt. may work.

Do feel free to revert back in case of any clarification or further discussion on the matter.

Warm regards.

From India, Delhi

Dear Sir, At the outset, thank you so much for taking a keen interest in this post. The officer concerned isn't the HOD or even the HOS, but is a Sr officer in the rank of DGM. He was in the operations/production of a different section of the same dept but has been moved recently to his current section within the dept in operations. The GM of the Dept is new and has joined just this month. He isn't aware of what is going on and even his colleagues perhaps aren't really aware (I am not sure). I should also mention here that when this officer was moved last time to a new section in this dept, he had raised a similar issue and finally managed to move some workers from his old section to his new section. Now, he wants to move them back to his current section.

Would like to make a clarification here, the officer was never transferred. When I referred to 'a officer' in my last post, I meant another different officer but in the same dept some years back. Coming back to the officer under review, his performance isn't bad neither is it very distinguished. Transferring him out would mean taking an experienced hand going out of the dept. IMO (and I could be wrong here), maybe he is trying to excel himself by putting others down so that he gets his promotion. And since he isn't very senior amongst his peers, it could be that its a long term strategy. His activities are not known (perhaps) amongst his peers but then again, the Personnel Dept did get a whiff of smell of the information. Its not an isolated incident since his activities have been suspicious to the Personnel Officers for quite some time now. BTW, the Officers Union plays no part in such activities in my organization.

[In case the matter has not been initiated or nor in the cognition of the HOD; then he should be taken into confidence; as CO & CCD is the first vital link in the production process]

I am completely in sync with you Sir. And we are going about it slowly and cautiously.

Transferring him outright is a possibility. But it wont change the man. I was thinking in terms of 1st, denying his demand, 2nd make him aware that we know what he is up to and 3rd letting him know that by doing all this, he has disturbed his career growth. If the Union leaders spill him out - then he falls into deep trouble. I was also thinking of countering him with statements like he is ineffective without excess manpower as demonstrated earlier.

Thank you all & Mr. Raj for your suggestions. Regards & Thanks again.

From India, Purulia
Dear Jay, These types of games do happen in large PSUs regularly. To portray one's importance key executives play such games to keep the attention away from the core issues and find some convenient reasons to escape the criticism of their inadequate performance. Many a times blame is put on HR department for all their inadequacies. Such people, when they act in cohorts with certain union leaders, it becomes a deadly combination. Having faced such situations, I suggest that at the first level confront with data, like manpower vs. performance, production vs. contract labour (value/number) in production review meetings or in proposal for additional manower to buttress your point that additional manpower is really not needed to meet the production target. At the second level you may play the game yourself. There will always be some trade union leaders or opinion makers who can set the tongues to sing a tune against such executives. But this is a difficult game and one has to be very careful and calculated to play it all. Yet another method is to wait for the time when the fellow will get exposed himself. Repose faith in the saying that ' all people can be fooled for some time, some people can be fooled always, but all people cannot be fooled always", since you have understood the game, sooner or later with some liberal helping from you, this message will get across everybody and such negative element will get exposed. All the best. KK
From India, Bhopal

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