- How should you approach this situation? Which of the two leaders should you talk to, and why?
As the HR director, I report directly to the company’s CEO, therefore, I need to communicate with him even though he is quiet, secretive, and controlling. I need to review the results of the employee engagement survey with him regarding the lack of transparent communication and how we can improve in this area as a company. We do not want to appear as if we are hiding information from employees, hiding job openings, and not being transparent. I would also point out that organizational policy and the employee manual state that job openings are to be competitive and posted to all seven locations for qualified employees. He can hire whomever he chooses, but the process should be open and competitive.
I will need to speak to the COO again, although I feel like he will avoid me and not back me up due to fear of the controlling CEO. I feel like he will not want to disrupt the apple cart and will always agree with whatever the CEO says. If this gets me nowhere, I could reach out to the founder of the company for advice on how to garner support for more open and transparent communication from the CEO and from the COO who is avoiding my inquiries and afraid to challenge the non-communicative CEO. The founder may provide guidance for the situation and may even step in to help.
- What points, ideas, or other information might you use to approach one or both of the leaders you have to work with in dealing with this situation?
I would point out to the leaders that as an HR professional, I must follow the SHRM Code of Ethics. I have a professional responsibility to contribute to the ethical success of the organization, to comply with the law, to be a role model, to promote and foster fairness and justice for all employees (SHRM Code of Ethics), and to uphold the employee handbook that promotes open and fair competition from employees in all seven locations. I must maintain professional integrity and not engage in activities that involve a potential conflict of interest as this scenario creates by not posting the position for internal employees. I must act fairly and represent all employees in the organization. I cannot be secretive or unfair. Ethically, this position should be posted so all qualified candidates at all seven locations can apply if interested. It must be a transparent and fair process and could keep the organization out of legal and discriminatory trouble.
I would reiterate that the hiring managers can hire whomever they want for the position, but it should be a competitive process.
- What might be some of the pitfalls and what are some of the risks in failing to follow guidelines in the employee manual?
Some of the pitfalls of failing to follow guidelines in the employee manual would be the employees mistrusting leadership and HR if we are not following and upholding the guidelines in the manual. Courts may find the employee handbook’s contents are legally binding commitments (Dessler, 2017, p. 233). It could be the grounds for a legal case by those employees who may have been qualified to apply for the position, but not given the opportunity. Employees may feel that leadership is dishonest, unfair, and displaying favoritism, thus snowballing into less engaged and less loyal employees.