Monday, June 3, 2013

Choosing the Path of least resistance


The rewards and recognition committee was presenting the rewards and rewardee list to the Management Team for the final sign off. There was just a month to go for the big company annual event which was celebrated in a grand fashion year after year

As they were going through the rewardee list, they came to the reward category for the "Business Unit having best self initiated improvements". This award was to encourage the teams within each Business Unit to strive towards continuous self improvement which was driven by the employees. It was a bottom up approach where-in employees identified improvements and solved it themselves, thereby taking the project and the organization one step closer to be a more efficient place

Unlike other award categories in which there would be at least one awardee for each Business Unit, this award category was limited to a single award - meaning only one Business Unit could win it

The moment this was presented, there was a lot of furor among the Management Team

"My Unit has maximum number of improvements, why isn't my Unit getting the award", said one Unit Head

"My Unit has key improvements which has positively impacted the bottom line", said another Unit Head

"Our Unit has been appreciated for our improvements even by our Customer", said the third Unit Head

"The measurement criteria you have used are incorrect", revolted one of the Heads to the Rewards committee

The arguments went on and on, with the reward committee trying the explain the objective and criteria but to no avail

After 10 minutes, the Site Head intervened "Team, lets not fight over this - Mr. Jack, please cancel this award category for the function" and the meeting moved on

What the site head had done was to choose the path of least resistance. This case is comical especially if you can picture the heated arguments and the sudden final decision. However this indicates weak leadership. One may push it off claiming it to be a trivial issue however these indicate a person's character & leadership skills. To avoid conflict, such irrational decisions would have been taken in other circumstances too

One cannot please everyone at all times - Decisions should be taken by applying Principles and Rules

In this specific case, the reward category had already been approved, which means the reward was found necessary. The Site Head should have been capable of objectively arriving at a conclusion on the awardee rather than shying away from conflict

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