Dear All, I am currently head (COO) of an autonomous body registered under the societies act and supported by the Government of India. We have a small team of 10 people and working under skill India Mission.
Last year I took over as acting CEO when the previous CEO resigned. The team is very old and was loyal to CEO as he was very lenient and was 60 plus of age.
It was a challenge last year to grow business due to COVID and also due to a very incompetent team. They have a habit of being babus of government department and work used to get delayed. There were no targets set, no KRA, No HR policies in place, and the team was free and was not bound for anything. However, due to slow business, I started with the introduction of procedures and goal setting with the team slowly and gradually. However to my shock one fine day when I was struggling with covid my few staff members (nonperformers) wrote to my board and chairman a mail complaining about leadership and with all false and fabricated allegations. They are adamant to ensure that I don't get promoted as CEO as my promotion was due this month. We have a grievance committee that is working on it. However, I would like to know what should be steps to control all this. The team consists of junior resources as Executive and dy managers. Kindly guide me as shall I along with the grievance committee speak to each employee and counter the allegations made or suggest.

From India, Gurgaon

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Dear Shalojas,

In the hindsight, it can be said that:

a) You could have obtained the sanction from the BoD or the Chairman for the imposition of targets, goals etc. In the beginning, it was necessary to shoot from the shoulder of the BoD to avoid the backlash.

b) You have kept the BoD and Chairman informed of the ground realities. Proactive communication would have mitigated the impact of the grievances from the juniors.

c) You could have identified 1-2 trouble makers, and, with permission from the Chairman, those people could have been removed from the job. It would have sent a signal to one and all.

Nevertheless, all this is past, and let me come to a solution.

If you are told to depose before the grievance handling committee, then you can very well explain that to grow an organisation, it was necessary to set the targets for the individuals and their departments. This is the only procedure to filter the underperforming employees. You have worked in the interest of the organisation. Only acting CEO cannot have accountability to grow the organisation. The accountability has to cascade down as well.

Hereafter, one more caution you need to observe is to demonstrate assertive skills at the workplace. Whatever the provocation may be, please do not allow your emotions to sway you. Be polite but be firm as well. When the leaders fail to use their interpersonal skills, the conflict becomes personal. Once the conflict becomes personal, the real issues get pushed under the carpet, and the discussion starts on behaviour. Please do not allow that to happen.

Finally, feedback on the quality of your post. It could have been better. Your post does not give a feeling that it has come from the acting CEO or the future CEO. Please make sure that your written communication is compatible with your stature. Not just because of your designation, but you need to be head and shoulder above your juniors because of your competencies as well.

General lessons: - Unless one gets a carte blanche bringing change is always difficult. There are individuals who try to block the change. The change becomes far more difficult if, rather than performance, loyalty was rewarded in the past. The loyal ones perceive a threat to their existence and unite to oppose the change.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear Colleague,

You said that your team of ten consists of some resources like Jr Executives and Dy Managers . And it is only some disgruntled staff who have written to the Chairman/ Board alleging (according to you falsely) against you.

You need to take some immediate steps and later long term actions.

You are amid a situation where you need to sort out true or false grievances of some disgruntled staff.

Firstly , talk to those executive/ managerial level resources who may be on your side to understand root cause of grievances and also and whether there is any basis for it. Do some brainstorming on pinpointing exact nature, cause and possible clearing the mess.

After this call all the ten persons and have genuine heart to heart talk. Convey your sincere desire to sort out genuine grievances.

I am sure, you have vision and roadmap for achieving your plans. Please share with them, discuss and help them engage with it.

These interactions are just beginning to start a sustaining relationship for future.

The whole approach is to engage and enthuse all to live the very purpose of their being and make them work for it rather than for an individual.

Don't take any vindictive action against anybody as a knee- jerk reaction without basis.

Regards,

Vinayak Nagarkar
HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai

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