IN last week installment, I carried out an interview with Regina Tendayi, author of In Pursuit Of Righteousness. Tendayi, who is an experienced human resources practitioner and HR expert, explores quite some intriguing issues of human resources management maladies at corporate level and also proffers some solutions to some of these intricate issues overlooked by leadership which have a serious bearing on the smooth running of corporate affairs.
By Robert Mandeya
Based on a true story, In Pursuit of Righteousness is a chilling story of abuse of power by an HR executive in a blue-chip organisation whose founding Christian values and principles are in stark contrast with managerial practices of the top leadership.
In the book, Tendayi explores some horrific experiences of subordinates in an HR department of the company in question at the hands of an abusive superior in the same department.
Mindful leadership is one of the issues the book flags out. In real practical terms mindful leadership aligns the internal — beliefs and values — with the external, behaviours and actions, for the purpose of advancing the common good.
The book provides chilling details on the irony of chief executives driving for “living” the organisation values whilst under their nose, the managers that they will be superintending will be practising contrary behaviour to the espoused organisational values. Tendayi candidly tackles the problem of bully bosses and how organisations provides fertile ground for bullies to thrive despite the obvious signs of corporate challenges like “high” turnover.
In the book the author exposes how shareholder value is eroded as the bully boss strives to assuage his unpleasant conduct in a bid to satisfy his ego.
The book brings into the open the deeply ingrained cruelty of leaders who are entrusted with leading key functions of the organisation like human resources, yet they go all out frustrating people, ill-treating staff, disrespecting them in a manner that is degrading, inhuman and unethical.
Sensitivity in leadership
The book calls to people in leadership positions to be humane, sensitive and strive to treat all subordinates fairly. Here leadership which is entrusted with supervising and managing people is challenged to self-introspect on quality leadership and how their style of leadership could either enhance or curtail a healthy productive working environment.
The issue of managing healthy working relationships with subordinates is brought into the spotlight. The author reminds people in leadership positions not to forget a key fact of life that the people they are managing are holding such positions in the organisation based on the qualifications and experience they possess.
The book implores leadership in organisations to be mindful of the fact that, outside the organisation, the same “cleaner”, “clerk’, general hand, etc, could be holding a respectable leadership position in their families, or social groupings. The key lesson to note here is that, “holding a lower level position in an organisation should neither define a person nor the way they are treated”.
Tendayi profoundly asserts that “people should be treated with respect, by virtue of being ‘humans’ and not based on the level or ‘position’ they hold”.
In the first chapter, the author touches on some critical recruitment issues pertaining to interviews. In the chapter, Pam the main character arrives for an interview and is ushered into an HR staff open-plan office with about 10 staff seated around individual work stations. This is to be her waiting room for the interview.
Pam describes the “waiting room” as quite uncomfortable and “disturbingly cold and unwelcoming”. Further, her interview time delays by about 45 minutes.
Such issue as time management and arrangement of appropriate environment for interviewees are explored. These are small issues but very important hygiene issues for organisations to consider when conducting interviews.
The key lesson here is that organisations should walk the talk when it comes to practising the organisational values. For instance, if one of the values is “professionalism”, it implies ensuring that all actions showcase professionalism in the truest sense. This would reflect in actions like respecting time and keeping to time, having some degree of candidate privacy when they come for interviews.
Corporate governance, ethical issues
How can shareholders guard against abuse of power by company directors as well as prevent misuse of organisational resources by these superiors to advance personal agendas at the expense of organisational interests?
Tendayi feels: “A proper governance and ethics structure that is transparent and is adhered to objectively by all concerned helps to instill a sense of trust and builds staff confidence. In turn, staff feels secure to flag out corporate maladies without fear of backlashes eg victimisation. Other possible solutions include formalising Tip-Offs Anonymous as well as having in place a robust performance management system that accords a platform to give and receive feedback.”
The book also explores some complex people management issues and the so many diverse human aspects to it. Leadership in any organisation at any level should be aware of the different personalities, beliefs, practices people bring to the work place.
However, Tendayi asserts that: “It is the role of any expert human resources professional to guide the organisation on how to achieve the desired goals despite the different backgrounds. Being a person of principles and integrity in all situations and circumstances is key in ensuring a win-win situation between the employer and the employee. This balance can only be achieved when both parties play their part fairly and transparently.”
Mandeya is an executive coach, trainer in human capital development and corporate education, a certified leadership and professional development practitioner and founder of the Leadership Institute for Research and Development (LiRD). — firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or +263 772 466 925.