A Christian World View
Effective organizational problem solving Is Impeded when each side withholds Information to gain an advantage In the labor management “wars. ” The end result Is the “house divided” that cannot stand given the absence of a body of Christ teach perspective. Labor history demonstrates 1 OF6 to sacrifice customers and the health of the organization rather than cooperate or admit defeat as happened with Eastern Airlines. The pernicious effects of a poisoned labor-relations climate impedes good-faith attempts to solve problems given that the other side is always wary of a “catch. 3. When either labor or management achieve dominance, the potential for abuse is greater. As the clich© state, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Unions can impose unreasonable terms and conditions on employers if they lack a commitment to servant leadership and mission achievement. 4. Labor and management can work synergistically and provide a competitive edge if both sides are dedicated to mission achievement and a spirit of humility. UPS, Southwest Airlines and the City of Indianapolis are best-practice organizations that are heavily unionized.
The common denominator is the embrace of partnership perspective based upon trust, mutual commitment, a common set of mission and vision values, and recognition of their mutual dependency. 5. The goal is to develop a labor management paradigm shift towards a consensual, problem solving, collaborative approach. The key elements for success: a. Recognize that a Just and thical workplace is based upon an ironclad covenant between labor and management. Both sides must be committed to the success of the mission and a means and ends integrity that recognizes their mutual dependency.
Both sides must assume the attitude ofa servant and work as if they are employed by Christ. b. Servant leaders from both labor and management who are willing to risk personal job security and reputation to bridge the conflict gap. There must be champions on both sides as occurred in Indianapolis. These servant leaders must be willing to love the truth and the praise of God more than the praise of men. i. Management must mmediately demonstrate is credibility in embracing servant leadership principles.
A great historical example was Lee Iacocca assuming leadership of the Chrysler Corporation and accepting a salary ofa $1 until the company returned to profitability and employees were rewarded for agreeing to wage and benefit concessions. c. Management must remove the log in its eye by assuming responsibility for the management and work system contributions to the organization’s problems. Externalizing blame by attributing problems to the employees and the union intensifies negative Job attitudes, apathy, discouragement, conflict, resistance and distrust.
No one wants to be held accountable and assigned responsibility for factors beyond their control. As the Indianapolis case study illustrated, management practices are frequently the major cause of performance problems. d. The incremental, gradual development of trust by “picking the low hanging fruit. ” How do you begin to trust the other side after years of conflict? The first steps would be to select areas in which labor and management possesses a clear mutual interest by solving a Joint problem or developing a program of universal gain.
The area selected should be limited in scope (start small) with the decision rules mutually developed nd set of accountability and evaluation that are mutually verifiable. e. Develop labor-management teams to Jointly solve common problem areas. Labor and management should be Jointly empowered to make changes in work processes, work rules, staffing practices and supervisory spans of control (reduce management staffing). Provide training to support the problem solving efforts from both a technical (quality Improvement tecnnlques) ana process perspectlves (group Tunctlonlng) ana best-practice examples of other labor-management partnerships. . Actively publicize the results of the efforts. It is critical to clearly communicate the success of he efforts. g. Link the efforts of labor-management cooperation to the performance management and appraisal system. Develop standards and metrics for management that emphasize the promotion of harmonious labor relations and a high quality of work life. h. Reward employees for cost reductions and productivity increases through a gain sharing and bonus systems i. Organizations are operating blindly without early-warning systems.
The most effective “canary in the coal mine” is ongoing communication based upon a climate of trust, but data-based systems are important as well such as employee attitude surveys, focus groups, and exit surveys. These methods increase employee trust, and can be the focal point of Joint labor- management quality improvement and problem solving efforts. A collaborative labor-management approach is truly the road less well traveled, but provides a great opportunity to change the culture of an organization to promote a more God honoring climate.
The next section addresses recommendations on negotiating techniques.. Negotiating Observations A negotiators chief enemy is the personalization of the process that generates strong emotions impeding rational analysis and Christ-like empathy (compassion fatigue). When we are emotionally sensitized, we default to a variety of dysfunctional strategies including a competitive “destroy the demon enemy’ approach or the “circle the wagons” siege mentality exacerbating the tension. Personalization is most likely to occur when the following factors are present