When functional heads form alliances such that conformance to this inner circle takes precedence to freedom of expression; organisations will find themselves vulnerable to corruption, static performance and handicapped innovation.
Functional heads are entrusted to translate the corporate strategy into palpable portions to subordinates and ideally represent the best interests of their subordinates throughout any cross functional interaction. However, junior members experience huge consequences when they challenge the status quo in such a way that identifies gaps in another cross-functional area. As opposed to viewing this as a development area and executing measures in place to drive synergies amongst teams; the inner circle views this as a breach of the alliance. The sole purpose of the sanctum is that a world is created where the ‘charmed ones’ are perceived to be overachieving and to be creating self sustaining teams. The ‘functional heads’ realise power and pull together to become a force that should not be challenged. The only solution for individuals that dare to embrace their individuality is permanent exile. This consequence immediately sets the tone for any would-be challengers. Exile is usually facilitated in the following 3 ways; performance management out of the organisation, redundancy through company reorganisation and deportation by relocation. Diversity muzzling leads to intense fear and erosion of trust. Employees can no longer function innovatively due to management’s collaborative efforts to reduce freedom of expression and authenticity.
When an organisation wants to grows, individuals are recruited to sustain business development and drive innovation. Aided by Human Resources, they are encouraged to attract the best talent that is sourced. Individuals that take up the post do so with zeal and a need to reinforce the correct hiring decision was made. In this particular instance, the ‘new’ individual was tasked to find a new supplier that would offer a more cost effective service to the business. The junior had no perceived idea that relationships founded with existing suppliers belonged protectively to a member of the inner circle. The vendor management process was followed as per organisation guidelines with procurement revealing the on-boarding of a new supplier. The existing supplier still maintained influence as they had a considerable stake in the remaining parts of the value chain. Despite the junior being tasked to achieve this by her line manager who was one of the ‘functional heads”, she had to bear the brunt of this decision alone. This trust relationship between the junior and her manager was violated. Three months later, the junior was then placed on a performance improvement plan which according to organisational teams was an exit strategy employed by the functional heads. Calculated decisions such as these erode the ethos of community and citizenship and politicize decision making. It does nothing to encourage the advantage of diversity by allowing dissent. Ironically, both these functional heads were at the forefront of this execution. The junior’s line manager refused to take responsibility for fear of being ousted from the inner circle. This is one of the many executions visible within the organisations leading to a culture of mistrust and fear has been instilled.
This behaviour exists because organisations pride themselves on their ‘perfect’ management structure and always prioritise management over subordinates. Divisional heads place huge trust on their functional heads and are reliant on them for honesty and objective delivery.
Corruption in organisations usually stems from management heads attributing objective decision making to relationship sustenance which is severely flawed.
The functional heads are often young and inexperienced and tend to be inconsistent in their approach. They fail to realise that people need to be managed differently and that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Human Resources support management through the processes that makes subordinates powerless to challenge.
There needs to be an external custodian that is immune to management influence to protect diversity within organisations. This person needs to report to the organisations head with any issues that affect employee status within an organisation. Any ‘potential’ exit issues should be validated by this individual.
Whistle-blowing mechanism needs to be institutionalised where individuals can report dubious behaviour.
Human resources needs to be objective and protect the talent recruited. The HR function needs to curb managers influence in performance managing individuals out of an organisation. Managers often take the easy way out instead of honing in on their management skills to get the best out of their employees. The old ‘adage’ that people leave managers and not companies reinforces this need. This will greatly prevent organisations from losing talent through poor management evolution.