Retraining and retooling call drives Pato and his driver nuts
During one of his monthly town hall meetings with employees, CEO Ben announced that Trulogic was to diversify its business.
He said that instead of banking on luggage delivery services only, the company would engage in bulk buying, which will include breaking of products for resale.
Top managers accepted the new business line but were concerned whether the workforce had the prerequisite skills and experience. To allay the managers’ fears, Ben hired an external consultant to undertake a skills gap analysis of employees at all levels.
It is Pato’s logistics department which ranked lowest in terms of its capacity to accommodate the new business line. To discuss the implications of the report’s recommendations on his department, Pato’s skills gaps were first addressed.
Ben told Pato: “Your first degree is in social science. In the new dispensation you need a qualification in transport and logistics.”
This scuttled Pato’s line of defense and he nearly missed a heart beat considering the challenges of going back to school for another certificate.
He feared that one of his supervisors who had a first degree in the area would oust him. In his response, Pato told Ben: “Asking me to go for further studies is like ordering an old dog to start learning new hunting tricks. That shall be an uphill task.”
Pato requested for time to think over the matter. Ben continued: “Regarding your drivers, they would require a first degree in business management with marketing as a major. The days when drivers were employed for driving only are over.”
At this point, Pato was really disturbed since some of the current drivers were secondary school dropouts. Ben explained that Trulogic was after university marketing graduates with valid driving licences.
This was to ensure that apart from delivering products, they would prospect and bring new clients on board.
As Pato was pondering how he would break news to drivers on the new required qualification, without causing panic over possible job losses, he asked Ben: “Instead of a degree requirement, can drivers who qualify for entry into Diploma in Transport and Logistics be spared to undertake the course?”
Ben told him that would require liaison with HR on alternative qualifications which would ensure that his business diversification strategy takes off. On Friday after lunch Pato held an impromptu meeting with drivers in the mini-hall to share information on the impending business changes.
“Trulogic wants you to obtain first degrees for you to be eligible to implement its new business line.” There was an immediate uproar in the room with drivers drowning his next remarks.
He ordered: “Calm down! Calm down! These matters are under discussion, no final decision has been made yet.” One driver retorted: “A few months ago, you recalled us after redundancy.
What are you up to again?” Pato was at pain to explain that the drivers would be given a chance to acquire skills that would make them become travelling salespeople.
But some of the drivers who were not willing to go back to school threatened to ask the transport union to intervene. Latter on, Phyllice, the HR Manager and Pato held a meeting with two union officials in her office. One union official started by saying that the proposed job requirements were in contravention of the drivers’ existing terms and conditions of employment.
“We insist that you shelf the arrangements until you have adequately prepared the drivers to assume the new responsibilities,” he said. Phyllice explained that when a job has been augmented, it demands for a new skills set, unfortunately, employees who do not qualify for the upgraded role are sent home on redundancy.
The union officials threatened to ask the drivers to strike unless management offered an arrangement that would save the drivers’ jobs. The following week on Tuesday at 10 am, Pato went to Ben’s office to follow up on his new job requirements. He told Ben: “It is not that I am against getting additional qualifications.
The issue here is the timing and combining studies with my normal working time.” Pato wanted to avoid studies at all costs because he was not convinced that obtaining a qualification in transport and logistics would improve his managerial competency.
He remembered his dream of joining the advanced leadership and management course at Harvard Business School in the US. He told Ben: “It will be more beneficial to Trulogic if you sponsored me for this Harvard course than my going for another degree course.”
Aware that the training budget was limited to local courses, Ben said: “In that case look for both a local transport and logistics course and leadership training.” Pato left Ben’s office disappointed that once again his hopes for foreign training had been dashed.
After two weeks, all drivers were called to a meeting in the mini-hall to know their fate. As they anxiously waited for Pato, some suggested that they boycott the meeting. Pato entered the hall accompanied by Phyllice and the drivers were heard saying that they looked as if they were going to detonate a bomb.
Pato started: “Wide consultations have been made on the new job requirements. It is now our duty to spell out what shall happen to you.”
Before he could invite Phyllice to speak, the drivers began mumbling saying Ben would be the appropriate person to address them. They also demanded that the Secretary General of their union be invited to the meeting.
Attempts to reach Ben for the meeting were unsuccessful. He was locked in a downtown bank negotiating for a business diversification loan. On the union side, the Secretary General had that morning been admitted for a Covid- 19 related ailment.
But the drivers decided to stay put until Ben returned in the afternoon as Pato and Phyllice went to the latter’s office to double-check the list of drivers lined up for redundancy.
The writer is HRD Consultant and Author of Transition into Retirement, [email protected]