Change We Can Believe In (New for 2012)

Over the past several weeks, I have used this space to present a continuing education series on how to create a pro-active labor relations environment.  I included specific strategic recommendations based on decades of experience and witnessing countless transformations in organizations of every size and description throughout the world.  I've seen change I can believe in - and have been happy to share those "keys to success" with my readers.

Additionally, for the next several weeks, I'm going to do something I have studiously avoided to this point:  address the significant issues and truly dire implications of the upcoming election as I see them.  

I don't take this step lightly.  While I have made no secret of my opposition to various labor-related actions taken by the current administration, I have so far left it to others to weigh in on the consequences of the November 6th contest.  But the stakes are too high this time around for me to remain silent.  Beginning shortly, I will outline what I see as the most compelling issues facing us as employers and as individuals living in what is still the greatest country in the world.

Speaking for myself, I'm ready for change - and not the one that turns us into Greece.

expert labor relations advice

Creating a Pro-active Labor Relations Environment - Part Four in a Series: A Sound Employee Relations Program

Once a Human Relations Philosophy is developed and implemented, it is necessary for all levels of management to realize the importance of maintaining a pro-active labor relations environment.

Much that has been written about the wisdom of “preventive medicine” applies to what can be called “preventive labor relations” - using sound management practices to prevent labor relations problems from developing.

To build trust in and commitment to a pro-active approach, attention must be focused on a minimum of four areas:

  • Effective communication.
  • Handling complaints and performance problems.
  • Knowledge and application of company policy.
  • Building commitment.

First Step:  Effective Communication

The most critical skill in pro-active labor relations is effective communication.  It builds trust and commitment on the part of employees by acknowledging them as individuals, by caring about their opinions, feelings and dignity, and valuing their unique contribution to the work unit.  For communication to be effective it must be “two-way” which means that individuals can express their thoughts freely and that they will be given appropriate, timely and adequate responses.

Listed below are some guidelines which can help develop and sustain an effective communication environment.

  • Talk with employees about their work performance, personal interests and ambitions.  Get to know employees as individuals and learn what motivates them.
  • Acknowledge the value of varying viewpoints, even if management doesn’t agree with them.
  • Earnestly involve employees in problem-solving.  Seek their advice and welcome their recommendations.  Listen intently to their suggestions.
  • Give timely, meaningful and appropriate feedback.
  • Talk to as many work unit people as possible each day.
  • Remember that management’s attitude and behavior set an example for employees.  Management must conduct itself accordingly.  Be aware of how management’s conduct affects other people’s self-respect, dignity and emotional well-being.
  • Respond to inquiries intelligently and candidly, even if management thinks they’re not very significant.  
  • Effectively counter and diffuse rumors when they arise.
  • Satisfy employees’ natural curiosity for information about work or any other matters affecting their employment.
  • Allay any unwarranted fear and suspicion employees may have about job security through communication of clearly defined duties and responsibilities, written work policies and procedures, and company status reports.

The other three steps of a sound employee relations program set forth above will be discussed in subsequent blogs.  Additionally, other blogs will be provided to help employers deal more effectively with critical aspects of pro-active approaches to relations between management and employees.

expert labor relations advice