XAT Decision Making – Important tips for questions related to Management and HR issues

Here is a list of some important points that can be applied or at least kept in mind while solving Management and HR related decision making questions in XAT. These points may not necessarily apply in every situation, but knowing them and keeping them in the back of your mind will definitely enable you to solve questions in a better way.

So here is a list of top Management and HR related points to ponder upon:

  1. Through investigation of the issue is always a good approach. So if HR manager is reaching to a conclusion without asking for an investigation of the accusations against an employee, that would be wrong. Every person deserves the benefit of the doubt.
  2. Don’t let personal biases cloud your judgment and affect your decisions. Never take emotion-driven decisions. Always think about the greater good.
  3. If an issue does not have immediate effect and there are logical reasons which suggest that it might settle down with time, then give it time. But most of the time (almost always), ‘doing nothing’ is never the solution. There is no point in postponing the problem when the solution requirement is immediate.
  4. Good communication can solve many problems, many a time the problems are there because of the communication gap between management and the workers. This gap can be overcome by setting up open forums as well.
  5. Many employee skill-related issues could be resolved by imparting training. See if there is scope for training workshops/seminars or online training.
  6. Always try to avoid extreme actions, instead, go for a middle path that is good for all.
  7. Sometimes, setting up a new committee or a forum or a team of experts/consultants to look into the matter is also a viable solution but should only be chosen when no better alternative is available.
  8. Check if the solution you are providing is not undermining any other information given in the problem statement.
  9. Options providing extra information, other than what’s mentioned in the passage, should be rejected.
  10. If there is an issue amongst senior members, many a time involving them in the decision making process makes them more responsible and involved in the project.
  11. Resigning or firing are extreme solutions generally kept for the end (when nothing works out).
  12. Understand if the situation needs an urgent and immediate solution or a long term one.
  13. Compensation or additional incentives should be given if there is overtime or if there is a change in company policy that affects the personal life of the employee.
  14. Unethical actions might have some short term benefits but are least appropriate for the long term. Rule out unethical options even if they appear to be practical or logical.
  15. Correlation doesn’t imply causation. If ‘A’ occurred after ‘B’ this does not mean ‘B’ must have caused ‘A.’
  16. Your actions should be in compliance with the law.

So these were a few points that might provide you a better insight and judgment in Management and HR related questions. Given below are some more issues and their solutions:

  1. Negative Co-worker
    • Make sure that you have actively listened to the reason behind their negativity, if it is legitimate, provide advice and try to solve their issues. If an employee is regularly negative, you might not be able to help them much as you don’t know their story. Talk to your own manager or human resources staff about it so that they can look into the matter and take the necessary disciplinary action
  2. Sexual Harassment
    • Make the process of complaining while maintaining confidentiality easy, take complaints seriously and investigate them to the best of your ability. Have procedures in place for investigating complaints and take the appropriate disciplinary actions swiftly.
  3. Lack of other skills in candidates
    • As a recruitment manager one should focus on the candidate’s strengths and not necessarily his weaknesses. If the candidate has strengths in an area where there is a vacancy then he should be hired for that position. His lack of other skills is a drawback which can be rectified through proper training on the job so long as it is not directly affecting his productivity too much. Also, necessary training can be provided by managers and senior leadership. You could also provide online training courses so people can go at their own pace.
  4. Productivity
    • Identify the reason behind low productivity (for eg: poor working practices, lack of resources, etc.). Bring in better technology and provide training programs to increase efficiency. If the reason for low productivity is personal then your first step should be to support people without making it more stressful for them.
  5. Motivation
    • People are more motivated when they feel strongly connected to the company. Develop a sense of belonging and a greater sense of purpose by recognizing employee’s efforts and by clearly articulating the company’s values so everyone knows what they are working toward. If managers regularly check up on the employees at a one-on-one level, not just on work but on how they are feeling about work, this motivates them and creates an opportunity for them to speak up.
  6. Negative work culture
    • Bribing to get ahead, manipulating figures and data, emotional blackmailing of employees, pressuring employees for favors whether they are personal or professional is unethical. Take complaints of any such activities and take swift action if found guilty.
  7. Discrimination
    • Equal pay to people of all genders, equal opportunities and fostering an environment that is both healthy and respectful to all the genders(Male/Female/Transgender). Discrimination based on ethnicity, age, colour of skin, race, disability or any other kind is unethical and should not be encouraged.

So, keeping these points in mind you should practice previous year questions. A few of them are given below for you to solve.

Read the following case-let and choose the best alternative for the questions 1 through 3 that follow.

Ajay was thinking deeply about a problem that his organization, a business consulting company, faced. Globalization had affected his company like many other companies. Despite the downturn, the current revenues remained healthy. However, Ajay knew it was inevitable that the company could not do business the same way. The complexity of managing the business had increased with time. Consultants were under pressure to deliver good and innovative solutions. The organization had consultants from different age groups having a good mix of domain and industry expertise. It was a flat organization with three levels. The biggest challenge for Ajay was to have consultants with latest knowledge who would also earn revenues. Getting additional business was a challenge as all the consultants were busy and it was very difficult to hire new consultants.

Q1) Some of the consultants were adept at applying old solutions to new problems. Ajay was not very sure if this would work for long. Some of the clients had complained about the performance of old and reputed consultants. Ajay was mulling over the following five solutions to tackle this problem.

  1. Decrease time spent on client interaction and increase time spent for generating solutions.
  2. Increase support staff to help consultants to remain updated.
  3. Decrease the number of simultaneous projects handled by consultants.
  4. Make it compulsory for consultants to work on inter-industry and inter-domain problems.
  5. Recruit more consultants.

Which of the following would be the best sequence of decisions taken by Ajay (starting from immediate to distant)?

A. 3, 2, 1, 5, 4
B. 4, 3, 2, 1, 5
C. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
D. 2, 4, 5, 1, 3
E. 1, 5, 4, 3, 2

Q2) After Ajay implemented some of the steps mentioned above, consultants wanted to renegotiate their contract with the organization. It seems that the organization had never mentioned that consultants have to work across industries and domains. Some of the old consultants were reluctant to change their ways, while many of the younger consultants were willing to follow Ajay’s advice. Which of the following decision can be taken by Ajay to handle this situation?

A. Retrench old consultants and recruit young consultants.
B. Pressurize non-conformists by giving preferential treatment to the conformists.
C. Negotiate with the old consultants and communicate that the new rules would apply to the new consultants only.
D. Do nothing and wait for a right solution to emerge, as with time resistance would die down.
E. Discuss the issue in an open house and let solutions emerge democratically.

Q3) Ajay was to retire in five years and he wanted to leave behind a legacy. Order the following activities, from the most important to the least important, that Ajay should undertake in next five year:

  1. Do nothing.
  2. Set a future direction for the organization in these challenging times.
  3. Benchmark performance with respect to the best consulting company in industry.
  4. Empower senior consultants and at the same time seek opinion of all others for handling future challenges.
  5. Infuse fresh thinking by hiring outsiders.

Choose the best option from the following sequences

A. 1, 2, 3, 4
B. 2, 3, 4, 5
C. 3, 4, 2, 1
D. 2, 5, 3, 1
E. 2, 5, 4, 3

Answers:
Q1) – B
Q2) – E
Q3) – B

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