She's got to go!


The HR team of a local bank came together to address a thorny issue, "Shall we terminate this High Potential (HP) Manager?" Apparently, the manager was rather arrogant, and refuses to see the folly of her ways. In addition, she is prone to scolding the staff reporting to her, something that was not aligned with the corporate culture. In fact, through her actions, she has caused 2 divisions to split up. Numerous attempts at counselling and coaching the manger led nowhere, and the HR Business Partners are proposing to have her terminated. Yet the HR Director is not convinced...


The strategic intent (Step 2) of the decision was tricky. The team was oscillating between maintaining the peace and providing professional service. Apparently, they did not have the clarity themselves of what they wanted to achieve. Step 2 had to be repeated several times until most of the HRBPs were satisfied that this was the real intent. And the intent is: to ensure that the job gets done professionally.


It was when the team came to articulate the constraints (Step 4) of the decision did the participation level rise several notches. One of the main constraints in HR discipline is to adhere to the performance improvement protocols. The bank had a PIP system in place and calling for the termination of the manager would be ultra vires. Even if there were some clauses in the employment agreement that allows the immediate termination of an employee, this case does not warrant that. Hence uncovering the constraints already negated the team's decision question.


That opened up another problem. What should they do instead? Employing the reframing techniques taught in the progam (Step 6), the team played with other perspectives they didn't think about in the beginning. By stretching their assumptions, by putting the subject into different roles, suddenly new ideas came to the team that had not been present at the start. They now had a better way of dealing with the manager, and more importantly, work within the system of employee improvement. (This case is all the more interesting because this was a team of HR practitioners who should be upholding the HR system, rather than trying to subvert it!)


Ultimately, the team decided to engage the manager differently thereby achieving their strategic intent of "the job has got to be done!"



Lessons Learnt


1. One can see the impact of group think in this case. All the members of the team were gunning for the manager to be terminated, even if that action would be deemed ultra vires. If they did not apply the logic of the strategic decision making model, they might have gone down an ugly path that might have created a greater repercussion on the team. We need to counteract group think with a structured, logical framework that will promote unbiased thinking. And that is what our SDM model provides.


2. When we are short of ideas, we will cling to the best of the worst case scenarios. Yet this case highlights that really tough decisions can yield newer and better options, we just need to look for it. We need to apply reframing techniques to get there.


3. Decision constraints are important inputs in guiding us to the right decision every time.



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