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Dear Forum Members,

I am one of the Founder Directors of a Pvt Ltd., Company whose identity I do not want to reveal at present.
The organization was started 35 years ago with 9 directors and presently is operating from its own premises with 4 working directors, the rest having either withdrawn their stake or have deceased .
Design, Manufacturing and supply of electronic Measuring Instruments and Special Purpose Testing Machines is the main activity of the company.
The Founder Directors and other Directors form the Board of Directors and the Companyfunctionsthrough Vice Presidents looking after various functions such as Finance& HR, Business Development, Marketing, Design & Manufacturing etc.,
I hereby wish to reproduce below a mail by me to one of the VP’s regarding an incident which occurred recently in the organization and also the reply from him
Before I reproduce the mail I am giving bellow a brief background of the incident for your understanding
The factory functions from 7.30 AM in the morning to 5.30 PM with a lunch break of 30 mins in between. We follow a 5 day week with Saturday and Sunday being Weekly off days.
One day last week, the factory did not open on schedule due to the absence of the factory keys. Employees were stranded on the lawns in front of the factory premises. Frantic phone calls were made to the Vice President concerned and ultimately the keys were received after about 40 mins.
In this regard I request the forum members to go through the MAILS and give your opinion regarding the appropriateness and tenor of both my query and the VICE PRESIDENT’s response
This is being done to ascertain from the learned members to see any corrective action is required in my action. In other words have I transgressed the boundaries of decency and decorum in sending him the mail below?

“Dear Mr. XXX
Today when I went to the Factory, I was given to understand that the organization started working @ 9AM instead of 7.30 Am
Also I came to know that the keys were not available with the appropriate people
What precautions and corrections are you intending to do so that the above does not repeat.
This is nothing but violation of STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE which are to be followed
According to me approximate man hours lost 200x 90minutes = 18000 minutes = 300 hours
Correct me if I am wrong
What are the checks and balances you are intending to do under such scenario so that working hours are not being lost?
Also request in such situations the information may be given to the top management

I am also enclosing his reply for your study:
At the outset you have wrong information. . The factory opened at 8.42 a.m. (time of call received from Security) and not 9.00 a.m. as mentioned by you. Unfortunately they have not informed you the reason for the delay neither you would have asked.
The Company Bus had skidded down a culvert at the parking place (because of the heavy rains the previous night) and due to tension, Mr. Raghavendra forgot to give the factory keys to the other Bus Driver / other employees. Further since I had work in Unit 1 / Syndicate Bank, I had planned to work in Unit 1 from 8.30 a.m. Hence did not go to factory at 7.30 a.m. I received a call from the security at 7.45 a.m. Informing that the key was not available. Immediately I called Mr. Raghavendra and asked him to rush to the Factory. I also rushed to the factory driving rashly. I reached the factory at 8.45 a.m.
You have mentioned “This is nothing but violation of STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE which is to be followed.” Please share with me the Standard Operating Procedure.
Ever since I joined the Company the procedure was as follows:
Factory keys are with the Founder Directors and one set of key is with the Bus Driver. Earlier the factory was being opened with the keys available Mr. WWW or Bus Driver. There are several instances when both have been delayed and factory was opened late. Why this had not come to your knowledge earlier or was it ignored. I was orally informed by Mr. WWW that the factory key should be in the custody of any Managerial staff, if the factory is closing late.
Ever since Mr. MMM is not attending office, he has given his keys to me. Every morning the factory is either opened with the keys available with me or the bus driver.
I am planning to hand over a set of keys to Mr. XYZ., Accounts, as he stays near to factory.
The man hours lost is 70 minutes. The no. of man hours lost will be calculated and informed to you. I authorize you to deduct the cost of the man hours lost from my Salary or shall be paid by me.
As you have mentioned that in such situation the information may be given to the top management, I have sent a detailed reply. Sorry If I have wasted your precious time by sending a long e-mail.
Finally I am saddened and hurt by the wording of your e-mail. However I would like to nail the coffin of this issue.

P.S: here Mr./s WWW and MMM are all Founder Directors
I would like your esteemed panel to go through this entire record and let us know your opinion
Thanking you for your time and awaiting your inputs

From India, Bengaluru
Dinesh Divekar

Dear Gsv,

First and foremost, I request you to make your post anonymous.

Well gentleman, the case is interesting and is a classic case study in understanding the choice of media of communication. The problem is that we are obsessed with the e-mail communication. However, everywhere this media is appropriate. This is what has happened with you. If the factory was opened late then why you did not seek clarification in personal meeting? Well same is the case of VP as well. He has retaliated with full vigour. When mail of this kind is received, neither he felt a need to ask for personal meeting and give clarification. This is called as "flaming" in e-mail communication.

"Choose right medium of communication" is one of the important principle of communication. Both of you transgressed this principle and have turned your relations sour. Secondly, one more principle of communication is Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity (ABC). It appears that you have defaulted on the accuracy count. I say so because VP has pointed out the timing of the factory opening. Next principle of communication that you have violated is "No assumptions". The mail was written with certain assumptions. Of course, when you take care of ABC, partially you ensure that you do not assume anything.

Notwithstanding your lack of knowledge of communication, you have sought feedback on your mail. I appreciate your orientation for personal development.

From the reply of the VP, I deduce the following about him:

a) The gentleman is not trained on "Business Writing Skills" (neither you for that matter). How to give introduction and what phrases to use to convey his point that he does not know.

b) He is highly reactive person. The tone is retaliatory.

c) He is not a person who will take the things lying down. Either he is too confident of his stay in your company or it is because of your weak leadership.

d) Notwithstanding his highly assertive nature, he has provided solution to avoid recurrence of the problem.

e) He is VP. Though I do not know his age, I can say that he has psychology of Gen Y and not Gen X. Gen X were in need of the job. They had family responsibility. In contrast, Gen Y do not have hard-pressed family responsibilities. They can afford to lose their jobs. The ease with which he has authorised to deduct the losses from his salary speaks volume.

f) If a person gives this kind of reply to his senior then how he must be behaving with his juniors? I feel that he must be rubbing his juniors wrong way without a trace of remorse. He does not care about the motivation of the juniors because of his excessive straightforwardness. Of course this is my visceral argument. If it is true then it is because of undeveloped personality.

Final Comments: - From the instance given in your post, from your e-mail and VP's reply thereof, it can very well inferred that a culture of professionalism is yet to enter in your company. You might have grown the company financially or otherwise, nevertheless, no efforts are made to give definite shape to the organisation's culture. This is a case study of what happens when the managers are not trained on soft skills. It is not just a question of training on soft skills, in day to day life these skills need to practiced as well. Both of you need good amount of training on subjects like leadership, personal communication, organisational communication, conflict handling skills etc. The more you defer, more will be incidences like these and harder will be it for both of you to erase the memory of the negative incidents.

Last but not the least, you have failed in understanding the psychology of the VP. How many months or years he is working with you? By writing e-mail of this kind, what would be VP's reaction? Why this thought did not cross to your mind?

Since you have asked for the feedback, I have analysed the case dispassionately. Please do not take my feedback personal.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

The comments and analysis of Shri Dinesh is excellent and has nailed the issue.

Both of you need to work on letter writing skills.

Is there a laid down SOP for opening the factory?

If it was not there then why refer to a nonexistent SOP.

Getting into nitty gritty of working hours lost has made your correspondence into mathematical counting of hours and minutes.

Therein issue of who opens,where the key is etc has got diluted.

The reply of VP is challenging and not in order.

If directors tone was tough,though misplaced,VP should have been courteous and less aggressive.

I won't get into Gen X or Gen Y classification.

VP needs to be pulled up.Even if he is right he needs to put it politely across.Is there any previous history of animosity between two of you.

Face to face meeting is needed to close this issue.

Probably a phone call to VP informing him about why the mix up of keys was only needed and after finding out a one off incident of late opening-follow up by letter would have been ideal.

From India, Pune
Dinesh Divekar

Dear GSV,

These are my supplementary comments to the previous post. These supplementary comments are on VP's offer to deduct his salary to offset the losses caused because of the delayed opening of the factory.

The VP has offered salary deduction because of various factors. One is that by doing so he has taken wind out of the shield of the charges against him. Generally fines and penalties are imposed by the management. By giving this offer, he has played the trump card that management was expected to play. By giving this offer, he has put you in the bind. If you deduct his salary, it will be talk of the town and he will earn sympathy of his juniors. It will set culture of fines and penalties in your company. If you do not impose the fine, it will again set a wrong trend in the company.

The second reason why he offered salary deductions could be because of sheer frustration. Possibly the gentleman is stressed lot and he is unable to take it anymore. To keep off the stress, he is ready to pay the price. The way he has written his mail shows that he has struck back with vengeance. He did not mince words while writing mail to the Director of the company.

By now in the top circle, the word must have spread about the exchange of the mails between both of you. Please note that informal communication travels faster than formal communication. Informal communication shapes culture of the company more than formal culture. Over here what is important, when employees ask this question to themselves, what thoughts will cross their mind, is a matter for you to ponder.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

Appreciate the comments by Mr. Dinesh Divekar.
I would like to add some more corrective actions to the above points for the organisational functions with out such types of incidents.
For any organisation every minute counts and loss of time values a lot in the view of Money, organisational values, integrity etc...
Corrective actions may be as following
a) Organisation can nominate some of the authorisation persons to open and close the office premises and any one of them should be present while both opening & closing the main doors.
b) Register shall be maintained to sign whoever opens or closes the main doors & the same employee can sign in one slip of paper & the same shall be sealed with the lock
c) If any authorised employee is opening next day they have to ensure the signatures in that slip
d) One of the key shall be retained with the security personnel in secured place wherein it can be accessed when ever there is urgency
Please correct me if wrong

From India, Bangalore
Dinesh Divekar

Dear Mr Nathrao,
You have written that "VP needs to be pulled up". While pulling up, one has to make sure that one is on the firm ground. Here management is equally on a slippery wicket. Prudence demand not to pull anyone while on slippery ground. Otherwise fall of both is well assured. VP's behaviour borders on uncouthness. Nevertheless, who allowed such VP to continue? VP is nothing but a reflection of a culture that company has allowed to grow. Rather than finding out the facts, the attempt was made to fix the blame. Therefore, it is important to look at the culture of the company rather than VP as a person.
Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

Our learned friends have made some sound observations and given you sound advice. The way you have handled the incident reminds me of the advice given to us by a tutor. He said "Never assume", because when we "ASS U ME" and the assumption is wrong it makes an ASS of U and ME. Had you only spoken to the VP what happened and why, instead of relying on hearsay, you would have avoided writing such an email and the VP too would have answered you in a different way.
I am sure, if you had given more details about the VP's service background with you, our learned friends might have given a different response to the one given one (Based on the assumption made given the limited information).

From United Kingdom

Dear Learned Members / Experts,

Mr. Divakar has rightly quoted “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance”.

I really appreciate the comments of NASHBRAMHALL.

With the details about the VP's service background, learned members / experts might have a different response to the one given by them.

In this context I would like to inform that I am working as an employee in middle management for the said company.

The VP joined the Company in 2008 as Chief Resource Manager. He is a MBA graduate and well versed in communication. He takes care of HR, Admin, Stores, Accounts, Banking etc. After he joined the Company, various HR policies have been laid down and written by him. I am given to understand that he was earlier working in O&M / Secretarial Dept of a nationalized bank.

The VP is a very calm and hard working person who sometimes has toiled continuously for more than 36 hours during finalization of accounts, performance and increments etc. He is also a good listener and tries to give solutions to employees’ problems. He normally retaliates when his integrity / honesty is questioned.

He is not a person who will take the things lying down. He is very much confident of getting a job anywhere else. He also talks of HRPO work etc.

Like mentioned in my earlier para, he has very good rapport with the juniors, peers as well as seniors. Hence I do not want to comment on the skills of the VP on leadership, personal communication, organizational communication, conflict handling skills etc.

NATHRAO has informed that VP needs to "VP needs to be pulled up". Like I said earlier, if he is pulled up, he will put down his papers as he is confident of getting a job anywhere else or being self-employed.

There are many instance of history of animosity between the two as the Director relies on hearsay of few of his trusted employees, who could be providing him wrong information. The Director uses this information to ascertain the facts with the workers, which the VP feels is character assassination.

The Directors always says that it is his money which is lost. Hence the VP might have offered to deduct the loss from his salary or might be out of sheer frustration as commented by Mr. Dinesh.


From India, Bengaluru

""NATHRAO has informed that VP needs to "VP needs to be pulled up". Like I said earlier, if he is pulled up, he will put down his papers as he is confident of getting a job anywhere else or being self-employed.""


I would like to remind you that director is a superior ranking person to VP.

Though the letter from director was little bit highhanded,a subordinate should always respond in calm and collected way and not in retaliatory manner.

Emotional intelligence is one quality which takes you higher when you are senior position.

The reply by VP shows an argumentative manner/attitude and in such high positions needs to be controlled.

As a rank outsider, reading only the query of the original poster,both of them need to calm down and behave in more constructive manner.

Emotional intelligence ranks much higher than IQ in such situations.

Calm and polite answer to each point of director would have served the purpose.

But it is clear that this letter was only a spark as tension already existed.

Honble VP may well remember/keep in mind, that emotional intelligence is a intersection of both heart and head and calm purposeful reactions is always the best.

Unsolicited offers to pay from salary,point blank telling you superior that your timing is wrong is not a reaction called for at this stage

From India, Pune
Dinesh Divekar

Dear Hacktivist,

Well gentleman, you have pitched in on behalf of your company in general and on behalf of VP in particular. You have given your viewpoint. Nevertheless, you have failed to read between the lines of the e-mails written by your Director and VP. This could be because you have dealt with both of them. You have heard about both of them. Therefore, there is every likelihood of your views getting biased because of inside information. I am giving my third reply since insinuations in your reply are aimed at me.

You have written that "The VP joined the Company in 2008 as Chief Resource Manager. He is a MBA graduate and well versed in communication". However, his mail gives evidence to the contrary. If he were to be well-versed in communication then would not have written the mail the way he has written. His point-by-point rebuttal gives semblance of debate that goes on in Indian news channels in the prime time. If he had understood concept of communication, then he would have investigated the causes for delayed opening of the factory, asked for the appointment of Director and explained him personally the causes. Director and VP both have shown immature behaviour. All that Director could have done was to write one single line mail to VP asking him to investigate the causes of delay and report.

It would be foolhardiness to believe that those who put up long working hours are mentally engaged. Since I conduct the training programmes on "Employee Engagement", I would say, VP comes under "Yes-man" category. There are four types persons, Victims, Cynics, Yes-men and Stars. To know more about this model, your may click here. The e-mail from the Director was trigger that converted VP from Yes-man to Cynic. Hence his retaliation.

The VP is frustrated that I have written in my first post itself. However, I disagree with you when you say that he knows conflict handling skills. If you refer "Conflict Process", prior to receipt of the mail, the conflict between the two was at State II level. Exchange of mails between Director and VP has brought it to State III level. Both have shown "competing" behaviour. Click on the hyperlink to refer this model. Possibly they may go back to Stage II of conflict but eradication of the conflict in toto is not possible.

Well gentleman, what happens in your company is personal. It was your Director, who brought the inside affairs in the public domain and sought the feedback. Director must have read the replies but he did not respond. With you pitching in on behalf of VP, it is tantamount to washing your company's dirty linen in public.

We the members of this forum will look at the case through third eye. We do take side of the either party. While analysing the case, I have given reference of principles of communication that your Director has violated. Management science has developed from the instances of this kind. Management theories are not developed in isolation or in vacuum.

Lessons for Training/HR Professionals: - Training or HR professionals have great penchant for building teams. They train lower level staff on teamwork. Many times employees are taken to some resort and outbound trainings are conducted. Participants are told to walk on fire also. Nevertheless, when the top management is spewing fire at each other, can training on teamwork succeed at the lower level? Hactivist has written that "There are many instance of history of animosity between the two as the Director relies on hearsay of few of his trusted employees, who could be providing him wrong information. The Director uses this information to ascertain the facts with the workers, which the VP feels is character assassination." It is the top management that shapes the culture of the company. With this kind of mindset of the Director, will it be possible to keep senior Managers mentally engaged? Sans this mental engagement, will it be possible to build teams?


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
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