What would you tell your department head?

Most people hold a certain level of inhibition when it comes to conversing freely with their managers especially if what they have to say is not positive. This level of inhibition only increases with the skip level manager; and gets worse when it’s the department head.

Changes always have a consequence. It isn’t necessarily good or bad but there’s always confusion.  Add to that the lack of clear communication, clarification of why the change was taken place and zero interaction with the skip level managers – a recipe for total disaster. It’s been a month since the new restructuring plan was proposed; and it’s been a month since there has been no clear communication to the managers, forget the employees.

I have informally interacted with 90% of the managers on the floor and have been exposed to a lot of concerns regarding their new role amongst other apprehensions. There is a clear fear of walking up to the department head and being reprimanded. What they should have asked for is simple – a forum where they are allowed to ask questions. But what they have actually done is list out their questions and asked me to raise them.

This is what one business unit wants. The other business unit, controlled by the same head faces similar communication issues. Issues like the shortage of highly skilled resources, lack of projects pouring in, slump in the North American market and not meeting revenue targets have also fallen into my lap.

I went chasing for one solution and was faced with another problem. The business is scared to speak to their leader in fear of being reprimanded. To them, the HR is a safe scapegoat. I can take the issue of restructuring up but do I also tell him about the rest? Isn’t that something the senior delivery managers need to discuss with the DH?

I have a 10am slot scheduled with the said Department Head on Monday morning. I am going to put forward the proposal of an open house with the restructured department. I have a strong case there and he would like to know how people are taking it. However, the other issues have to be dealt by the SDM’s. In my opinion, as a BP-HR, I should advise them to take their problems to the higher management and address the issue of poor communication to the higher ups. I can’t act as a post master b/w the two parties.  There are some battles I can’t fight for the business.

Have you ever been asked to be a messenger b/w the two levels of senior management because there is a fear that the messenger may be shot?


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