Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Labour Law & Hr Consultant
Retired Government Servant/advocate
Manager - Labour&ir
Retired From Air India
Hr Executive
+6 Others

Dear Seniors,
I have joined a pharmaceutical company 2 months back. I have been specifically recruited for employee engagement for Quality Control department.
I have been observing the employees of QC and have identified that they do not respect their superiors and do not understand the importance of the Managers and Heads. I felt mere giving them reasons on the importance of Managers and Heads will not help. Hence, I have decided to build some activities or exercises to make them understand the importance of the Heads.
If you could suggest me some ideas in building those activities or exercises like team building activities would be very helpful.
Thanks in advance.
Kind Regards,
22nd August 2016 From India, Tirumala - Tirupati
Dear Tejashree,

Respect to the elders is embedded in Indian culture. If the subordinates in the Quality department defy this very aspect of Indian culture then I feel that the malaise lies somewhere else. Therefore, in addition to the fact that the juniors are bound to respect seniors, two things emerge. One is that the HOD of quality department might have lost trust of juniors hence brooks no confidence from them. Therefore, you may dig little deeper and find out the root cause of this problem. Does HOD have sufficient technical competence to become head of Quality Department? Is it that organisation has given him legitimate power but he lacks expert power?

Secondly, what about other departments? Is this problem only with one particular department or many other departments also but it has come to the fore only with this department?

Lastly, not respecting seniors, even if it happens in one odd department, then it is failure of your induction training. You need to include this part in the induction manual.

Conducting games at the office is not panacea for all the organisational ills. The causes need to investigated. Else games could create superficial effect and things could come back to square one!


Dinesh Divekar

22nd August 2016 From India, Bangalore
Dear Tejashree - Dinesh Divekar has put it very nicely. I also suggest you to find out the reason behind the indiscipline & obviously it should be with HOD and Managers.
Either the employees are ill treated or knowledge levels of the Senior Management team is a ?. The authority part also a big question? If the superiors are unable to defend their team members / support the needs of the juniors they the seniors will loose their control and respect.
Before going for the employee engagement start working closely with the juniors / their close friends, understand the concerns & adress those issues. If that is done 50% of your task is completed, plan for recognition / reward part / organize a dinner with the team. By doing this you will be able to understand the areas of concern, organize 1 or 2 behavioral training sessions and then plan for employee engagement activities pl.,
22nd August 2016 From India, Hyderabad
"Dig little deeper" is the advice given by Mr.Dinesh.I can't agree more. True, juniors should respect seniors and youngsters respect elders.However, age as an automatic factor for commanding respect happens mostly in family and social environment but In other walks of life be it sport or professional life, respect need to be earned by the individual by virtue of his knowledge, values, ethics and behavior. Therefore there is no point conducting employee engagement activities without digging deeper as to why the managers are not able to command respect. I may not be surprised if the managers themselves are responsible for disengagement as it turned out to be more often.A deeper study is necessary.

22nd August 2016 From India, Mumbai
Dear tejashree,
Would appreciate if you are able to assess if the manager deserves respect and has the ability to command his team. Gone are the days when people respected just the designation.
Leader should show that he is the ALPHA animal of the pack to deserve respect.
Ask yourself, would you respect someone just because he is on top of you due to hierarchy?
23rd August 2016 From India, Mumbai
Dear LV Swamy,

You have too far by writing Would appreciate if you are able to assess if the manager deserves respect and has the ability to command his team.

Managers need to be respected. Disrespect of the manager is disrespect of their designation. Secondly, whether one "deserves" respect is a matter of perception. Since perceptions differ from one person to another, respecting seniors cannot be individual's choice. Companies cannot be run like democracy where any Tom, Dick and Harry can come on TV Channel and start calling names against the Prime Minister of the country.

Desolateness whether by seniors or juniors, vitiates the company atmosphere. Today the malaise could be at one of the departments. However, if we allow this vitiated atmosphere to prevail, it could spread to other departments as well. Juniors just cannot get away by saying my Manager does not deserve respect. If we allow this then tomorrow Manager may say my General Manager does not deserve respect and GM may say my VP does not deserve any respect. How long this can go on?


Dinesh Divekar

23rd August 2016 From India, Bangalore
Dear Tejashree,
Most of the cases like this, the actual problem is with the HODs.
The seniors and HODs should be able to command the respect and not demand it. First find out the reasons. If there is an issue with the Seniors and HODs, first speak to them and explain why they cannot get the respect. Get them to change first before changing the bottom layers. Seniors also should respect the juniors and they should realize that they cannot succeed without the full support of the juniors. If the HODs change the attitude and the ways they handle juniors, then it would be easy for you to change the juniors.
I have seen a manager who does not know how to respect his juniors demand respect and his subordinates "show"respect in front of him and taking him as a joke when he is not there. Every body notice this difference. This is an example.
23rd August 2016
'I have been observing the employees of QC and have identified that they do not respect their superiors and do not understand the importance of the Managers and Heads.' The statement is too general and vague in the absence of specific as to how you have surmised that the the employees are not so respectful of their managers. It could be that you are hasty in the surmise!
23rd August 2016 From India, Kochi
You may find, after further investigation, that it is the Manager who needs training, NOT the staff.

So often, people are promoted to management designations, but given no specific training in how to deal with, and manage staff, to get the best out of them, and develop the team.

I was in the workforce for about 47 years. In that time I worked for some of the nastiest, incompetent, and useless managers you hope you would never meet in your life. Those workplaces were toxic and dysfunctional, due solely to the manager, not the staff. We mostly all got on well and worked as a team, as best we could under the circumstances.

In one workplace, I was the only member of the team who spoke to the Manager. No-one else ever spoke to him unless he came and asked them a direct question. They would not even say good morning to him when he came into the office, and totally ignored him. Fortunately for me, he was not only useless, but weak. After putting up with his stupidity for a few weeks, one day I walked into his office, slammed the door, and proceeded to read him the riot act. He smartened up his act after that, simply because he needed me to solve the problems.

So, as others have pointed out, look for the real problem first, then decide the course of action.
25th August 2016 From Australia, Melbourne
Dear Tejasree,

Members with lots of industry experience have given very useful inputs on the problem you seek to solve. Since I am from a different work culture where commanding respect from subordinates is very often a matter of authority or positional advantage and as such not at all an issue in the normal course, I think that I may have nothing to add as complement other than merely elaborating their views.In workplace relationship, giving due respect to superiors is the first sign of general discipline in the organzation. However, it is the superior whether he be a supervisor just one step above in the hierarchy or a manager, he/she has to ensure first that he/she is worthy of respect. The most unfortunate in organizations is the arrogance, be it intellectual, technical, professional or positional normally exhibited by superiors. Efficiency may be relative but age and experience are absolutes. An ideal superior should give due weight to the age and experience of the individual workers and make them fall back on him in case of work-related problems by his friendly disposition and technical prowess. It is very difficult for a subordinate to work under a superior who is less knowledgable but more bossing over and the constant implosion created out of this would explode first in disrespectful behaviour only. However, the absence of such good qualities in the superior will not justify the lack of respectfull behaviour on the part of the subordinates. It may just be a symptom rather than the disease. That's what our learned friend Dinesh suggested you to dig a little bit deeper for I suppose it is the problem with your Quality Control Department only. At times, in a pharma set-up, QC people may be held responsible either alone or collectively for any defects in the products after despatch and this may add to their stress and strain. Quality can not be the single and isolated responsibility of the QC people. So, first ascertain whether the people in the QC have job satisfaction.
26th August 2016 From India, Salem
Dear All friends,
i read all the posts and appreciate the suggestions given here. in this case i wish to add one more reason to why subordinates do not respect their seniors. in one of the organisation i was HOD of the department and i faced the sake type of problem, when i investigated in to the matter than the fact came out that the seniors management i.e. director/owner of the company. give commands to the juniors by breaking the hierarchy. thus notion about the manager or HOD changes in the mind of subordinates that the manager/HOD has no value in the system. hence subordinate begins disregarding his seniors.
27th August 2016 From India, Delhi
From my over four decades of industry experience, I may suggest an useful solution.This issue need to be addressed from behavioral science point of view.Do not concentrate much on employees domain to find solution.Here the solution lies with the Managers.Train/motivate them to get imbibed within themselves the management style of"Leading from front with self example".Once this is achieved,the employees will start feeling/fearing that they are not "indispensable".Automatically things will start falling in their slots.
Caution: This is a time consuming process and need management support with lot of patience.
27th August 2016 From India, Dehra Dun
Dear Teju,
I read with great interest the postings from all members but I was missing out something which I finally got in Shri Umakanthan's reply viz.,"......... The most unfortunate in organizations is the arrogance, be it intellectual, technical, professional or positional normally exhibited by superiors.....".This is a common problem , especially in organisations where some jobs require high degree of skill.Hospitals and Airlines are two examples.In the former the specialist doctors feel they are above everyone and even God is next to them. I'm not generalising but it is true with most of them.In case of Airlines the commanders , who have absolute jurisdiction on a flight once the door is closed , start thinking that they are keeping the airlines afloat ! Therefore they need to be given some training whereby they realise the importance of other tasks- in your case the task of HOD.
27th August 2016 From India, New Delhi
I will agree with partial portion of PARAKRAMA's word. Nowadays, most of executives not known the difference between HOD & BOSS. Most of HODs having the boss attitude. The problem will come from higher level only. They are expecting as all juniors should obey the word of boss(it may wrong / right).
29th August 2016 From India, Chennai
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