Vivek Paranjpe, Consultant & Strategic HR Advisor to Reliance Industries answers professional and ethical dilemmas faced by our readers at their workplace.
Question: Dear Sir, I am a HR Manager of a company which has 200 employees. My CEO does not trust the employees as a result of some past experiences he has had which has deterred his confidence in people. He thinks everyone is out to defraud the company, and this mindset has led us to create many policies which are not entirely appreciated by the employees. While he instructs strict compliance to these policies by the support staff, he allows the revenue and sales operations group to enjoy a relaxation. The support staff has approached me questioning the sanctity of these policies, given this difference in approach to the different teams. My CEO is not open to feedback, so I do not know how to communicate the concern to my CEO. Please advice.
Answer: An organization’s culture evolves as a result of several experiences that the entrepreneur or the top leadership gains over time. Practices and processes are a reflection of the core values and beliefs prevalent in the company, which further guide the strategies and the vision of the company. While it is undesirable, it is also not unusual for one to swing to an extreme, merely because of a bad experience.
Organizational processes must be built with appropriate checks and balances for better effectiveness. Empowerment and delegation of authority must always be coupled with governance and risk management components embedded within the system. In your question you said “he lets the revenue and sales operations group to have their way”. This is perhaps because he has more trust in the leaders of these groups, which is good news. But, at the same time, you must ensure that this organization also has the right governance (checks and balances) in place. If not, it is your duty to nudge the CEO towards creating the same.
As a HR head, you should strive to coach, support and guide your CEO. You must learn to empathize with him in order to understand why he does, what he does. Have patience and slowly nudge him towards trusting his people across the company and he will probably come around. You say that your CEO is not open to feed back - I am not so sure about that. If your feedback is supported by adequate data, facts and wise counsel, and is presented in the right fashion, I am sure he will listen to what you have to say.
But the question is - do you have enough credibility with your CEO? If not, you must first work towards building your own credibility with your CEO. Do not write him off without putting in efforts at your own end. Facilitate the right communication across the company to explain the need for having the right checks and balances in place, instead of saying “my CEO is wrong”.
You can post your questions to Vivek by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org