One of my friends is working as HR Manager in a start-up firm. They hired a male candidate for the senior-most position, with a perspective to create a strong base being a start-up. After few weeks, HR observed arrogant and dominating behavior from that employee, and the same was complained about by few employees on the floor as well.

This continued for few months. The HR also tried to have a polite conversation with the arrogant employee, but nothing worked. Now, her problem is that she cannot take any strict action, because this arrogant person is from the well-known contacts of owners. She also tried to explain the whole scenario to the owners, but again nothing worked.

Now, she is worried about a fact that he is spoiling the work culture because of his behavior, and being an HR the blame is on her that she is unable to maintain and balance the environment. Please suggest, what steps she can take to deal with this situation because quitting is not a feasible solution.

From India, Noida
Dear Swati,
The most important sentence of your post is "She also tried to explain the whole scenario to the owners, but again nothing worked."
If the owners of the company who are running a start-up are not worried about the organisation's culture then what to do? If they have not understood the value of fostering a healthy interpersonal environment in the company then nothing can be done.
Wait for some time and quit the job. There is no need to show unwanted emotional attachment to the company. Such companies never grow. No need to be with a company whose growth is unsure.
Thanks,
Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Thanks Mr. Dinesh. The same was my suggestion also, but I wanted to have thoughts of other professionals also to such situations. So posted it here.
From India, Noida
Dear Swati ji,
I agree, arrogant people spoil the work culture also they have a way of taking up the air in a room.
I think first step can be creating an atmosphere of discussion as this will remind the dominant colleague that opinion of teammates matter too. Most importantly, consider ways of improving team's dynamics, develop trust and mutual respect. Most teams can benefit from team building.
2) If the dominant person is going off on a tangent, find a way to cut the speaker off politely.
3) Many people with dominant personalities enjoy being challenged at work, so try assigning them in challenging projects that will test their skills and abilities.
4) Keep conversations targeted and brief. Speak confidently. Avoid generalizations and support your assertions with evidence.
No one's perfect and many a times dominant colleagues don't have bad intentions it's just that they are too bold and confident person. So I think quitting is not a tight decision rather gather up and straighten the things your way is what required. Never run being a warrior is fun.
Thankyou.

From India, Nagpur
Dear madam,

I beg to differ with views largely on your predicament .

Because the owners are indifferent to the nonsense behaviour of this entrant you are put in a spot.

Certainly , the uncalled temperament of this person, by any standards, cannot be let unchecked in the larger interest of the organisation, team morale and culture.

I think, you should prepare a confidential note to the owners giving detailed history of his behaviour and how it is detrimental to the organisation's well being. You need to convince and let the owners take responsibility to compell him to change his ways. You will have to let them know that you have organization's interest upper most in mind.

If with your sincere approach, the owners fail to act in the desired direction, you are free to choose your options.

Regards,

Vinayak Nagarkar
HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai
Dear Swati,
As an HR professional, your friend is expected to do everything to protect the interest of the organisation. Let her do it but beyond a point, there is no need to develop an emotional attachment with the company. Your friend works in a business enterprise. The MD of the company, who is the No 1 stakeholder, should understand the importance of the work culture. If he/she does not understand then nothing wrong with bidding goodbye to the company.
The MD of the company is expected to keep an ear to the ground. He must know what is happening in the company. He must encourage upward communication in his company. While running a start-up if he is ensconced in his own affair then so be it.
Your friend works in a commercial entity. It is neither a rehabilitation centre for the arrogant person nor a reformation centre. The task of reforming behaviour or winning confidence by accepting dominance looks fine in films or TV serials. In a large number of family serials, aired on national channels or otherwise, typically it is shown how newly married daughter-in-law (DIL) puts up with the subjugation by the mother-in-law (MIL). After years, of submissiveness or even compromise with the prestige by the DIL, the MIL starts trusting her.
A few years ago, A Marathi film was released wherein it was depicted a village lad, though well educated, falls in love with a foreign girl. After the marriage, she is brought to the village. But the groom's family members unleash their harshness on her as she belonged to "other" culture. Nevertheless, the foreigner transforms herself into a typically "Bhartiya bahu" and puts up with their abrasiveness and wins the hearts and minds of the near and dears ones but after doing sacrifice for the years.
We the Indians are taught haughtiness of the few is fait accompli and in the interest of family or organisation, someone's sacrifice is most important. However, it must be born in mind that humility, liberalness, politeness are two-way streets and there cannot be a one-way.
Against this backdrop, I recommend your friend to concentrate on her career development only. Nothing is as important as that. If your friend feels that career growth can take place in that company then only she should continue. Otherwise, there is a big world outside.
Thanks,
Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear madam,

Your friend is well acquainted with the ground realities, behavioural aberrations of the new senior managerial entrant in the leadership role and soft peddling attitude of the owners. Yet she should put up a brave fight against the misfit person and exhaust all options first to straighten his behaviour in most persuasive manner.

Instead of taking escapist stance and giving up without trying what is needed to be done in the larger interest of the organisation, in my view, is against the HR ' s grain and values. HR is " social conscience " keeper of the organisation and she should not leave any stone unturned to uphold the same in nailing the wrong- doings of a person who , despite being in the leadership role has not learnt the ropes of basic human relations.

Her success will depend on her courage of conviction, persuasive skills grit and determination in driving the point that her efforts are for a cause which is for the good of the organisation and there is nothing personal about it.

Quitting the job without giving it a try , is easy option and is meant for weak minded people who loose the battle in their minds first before even going to the battlefield.

Well it is easily said than done but the experience will surely enrich her as a professional and help build up strengths even if there is unfortunate failure.

Rest it is up to her to take the right call.

Regards,

Vinayak Nagarkar

HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai

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