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© 2008 Plug-in Excellence

Following a successful assignment as HR Business Partner to the winners of a major outsourcing contract with a major UK banking PLC; job over, life moved on. Some months later, out of the blue, there was an emergency request to return and avert a significant conflict emerging at the outsourced production unit.

The contractor's Group Director responsible for the project was having difficult and angrily escalating exchanges with the unit General Manager. The Bank's outsourcing client had been dragged in, was very concerned and demanding resolution. There was serious upset at all levels in the plant. The contract was at risk.

Terms of reference and carte blanche authority to investigate was agreed with the Group Director. A meeting with key contractor management clarified that early work had gone well. It became clear how short term issues and focus had lost sight of the people dimension of the organisation. Commitments made to the staff and management were not being kept and gradually fear, frustration and, ultimately, open conflict was the order of the day. There was only one realistic option… go on site, find out the reality at first hand and get resolution started,

The first step was a tough meeting with the General Manager who was angry, upset and highly critical. When he had calmed down an investigative/consultative process was agreed and begun. The scope of authority from the Group Director was clarified — guaranteed ability to get clear communication to top decision makers.
The next stage was to “go walk-about” and talk to people and groups, clarifying concerns and confirming the communication channel. The General Manager was surprised and ultimately encouraged by the proposal but he expected 'sticky moments’. In the event people responded constructively. Further time was offered to employees who wanted private meetings, although as progress was made through the plant, few took the option.

After the shop floor provided their input, the plant management shared their problems and concerns. The bulk of these of these were operational and directly related to service delivery and the impact of staff morale on plant performance.

The client was promptly given a full synopsis of the problem issues. A key Group executive came on site within hours and subsequently arranged relevant action.

It was reported that working relationships in the plant improved 'spontaneously' with the renewed focus and attention. Life moved on once more...


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The Angry Factory