Maybe stories are just data with a soul.
~Brene Brown
~Brene Brown

A New Job

Ramesh is on cloud nine having got an appointment order as GM HR from a manufacturing company boasting a large workforce…..soon he is briefed with the challenges facing the company ….unusually high number of self proclaimed union leaders …. HR team’s hands full with routine matters….surplus manpower…deadlock between management and union …chaotic industrial relations…a dramatic end of his predecessor …. expectation from him …turn around the Industrial Relations’ scenario … Where and how does one begin?

By Suneetha Deb & Harish Raichandani*

Ramesh was on cloud nine. He just got an offer from Transtec Metallic as GM-HR. Transtec, a manufacturing company with 4000 employees had good name in the market.  The offer was a good jump for Ramesh and he knew this would also boost his long-term career prospects. He immediately dashed off his acceptance letter.

Six weeks later, Ramesh’s first day in office had gone off well. During the day he was taken around the plant, introduced to his team, met his peer group – heads of different departments/ functions. Ramesh left the plant with a spring in his feet.  His CEO, who had been busy with a board member during the day had invited him for a break-fast meeting next morning at the Director’s Bungalow.  He wanted to personally welcome Ramesh.

Next morning the CEO personally received him. Over breakfast discussions centred around relocation of Ramesh’s family; Ramesh was offered full support including school admissions for his children and a prime company house in the township.

During the following one hour the CEO briefed Ramesh about the HR challenges confronting Transtec. At the end of meeting Ramesh realised that

  • There are about 40-50 self proclaimed union leaders.
  • Their only responsibility appeared to be to come to the HR team and pose problems like
    • Wrong punching of attendance
    • The weight of Medu Vada served in Canteen being less by 10gms
    • The quality of safety shoes
    • Colour of the uniform
    • Medical referral benefit to an employee’s kin, etc.
  • The HR team appeared over-worked, fire fighting all such issues
  • Long Term Settlement was due to be signed a year ago, but the process had not even started
  • There was surplus manpower and management was keen to right-size
  • Ramesh’s predecessor was shot-at by a disgruntled employee in the labour court
  • At senior levels there was total collapse in communication between Union & Management leading to lack of trust
  • Everyone appeared to holding to his ego, without any organisational interest in mind
  • There appeared total chaos on the Industrial Relations front; some members of management team appeared to have given up and wanted the unit to be shut down.

The mandate and expectation from Ramesh was - turn around the Industrial Relations’ scenario; the process of LTS being the first step towards same.

As the CEO’s mobile phone rang – he excused himself and stepped out in the car portico and was soon immersed in an animated discussion with someone. Ramesh was left alone with his thoughts wondering -- What should be done? Where & how to begin?

What would you do, had you been in his shoes?

*Case conceptualized based on inputs by Satish Anand, GM – HR, Tata Chemicals
*Suneetha Deb, Consultant Potentia
*Harish Raichandani, CEO Potentia

© All copyrights with Authors and Potentia Growth Services Private Limited [Nov 2007]