In Canada, many businesses are facing significant risks because of labour scarcity, the lack of requisite skills in the marketplace, and the difficulty they are experiencing in adapting to new technologies and processes. These risks are made more acute by the general lack of awareness regarding the importance of labour relations in shaping the organizational culture to be consistent with the direction management wants to move. To be blunt, the art of managing labour relations is becoming lost.
Strong relationships are based on mutual trust
Labour relations focuses on managing the relationship between the organization and its employees, as well as managing the relationship between the organization and the unions that represent its employees. In many business sectors across the country, organizations have a unionized workforce. Even organizations that are "union-free" must contend with the reality they are a potential target for unions to organize their workforce and become the representatives of their employees.
Poor relationships within an organization allow unions the opportunity to create new relationships with its employees and provide a voice for those who feel disenfranchised. In this context, the ability to manage labour relations well is critical to success for these organizations.
Organizations need to create an environment where employees can thrive. In general, people want to come to work. They want to be engaged in what they're doing, and to work on things that are interesting and meaningful. They need their organization to provide the tools necessary to work safely and productively. The strength of the relationship between employees and the organization will help determine how well the company achieves its business objectives, how successful it is in managing change, and how it is able to overcome adversity.
Key training can help leaders achieve business goals
We could say managing labour relations is a bit like learning how to play golf or any sport at a high level. It looks easy when a professional does it, but it isn’t. Apart from natural ability, it takes proper instruction, hard work, excellent coaching, and a supportive team. Athletes know they must continually practice proper skills and technique to improve and be competitive. No matter the level, athletes understand the need for instruction. Much of the same can be applied to the work environment. Training courses are available to fill in knowledge gaps. Organizations can provide support and guidance. Developing and maintaining strong relationships by leveraging additional training is key.
When working in a unionized environment, specialized instruction is required. The presence of a union provides employees with a dedicated voice in addition to their own. This additional level of complexity requires extra skills and management effort. In addition, there is Labour Law and other specific rules outlined in the collective agreement. In tandem, these create specific terms and conditions that must be observed.
To achieve business goals and objectives, there are three key areas in labour relations all managers and supervisors should learn how to do well:
As a supervisor or manager, it’s important to understand the inherent management rights when leading a team. The collective agreement may place some constraints on how work is handled, but in virtually every situation the collective agreement has never stood in the way of business success. It’s also common for managers and supervisors to believe they are restricted from doing things when in fact they have a wider range and ability to dictate how the business is managed than they may realize.
Learning about management rights and what is in the collective agreement is often the first step in helping understand they are capable of leading the business to success. Training courses like Understanding Management Rights and the Collective Agreement, Managing Performance in a Unionized Environment and Managing Relationships at Work will help them take the next step. Combined, these courses give participants a solid foundation. They will enable them to create a positive work environment which is attractive to others, encouraging other employees to participate and share in that success. Essentially, they are working collaboratively with their team, forming a strong foundation for the development of a winning team.
Labour relations training will strengthen team performance
By putting the learnings and skills from Understanding Management Rights and the Collective Agreement into practice, Managers and Supervisors will be ready for the next course, Managing Performance in a Union Environment. In this course, participants will learn how to get the best out of their team within the context of a union environment. With these additional skills and knowledge, they will have more constructive discussions, better employee performance, and fewer grievances. The overall productivity and success of their team will increase.
At this stage, they will have made considerable improvements to their knowledge and understanding of how to effectively manage labour relations. The Manager and/or Supervisor can take this knowledge one step further by taking the Managing Relationships at Work course. It has become increasingly important to create an environment where employees feel safe, respected and understand how they are contributing at work. They will be better able to manage both their team within their department and across the organization. In these environments, employees are more engaged and productive. Satisfied, happy and stable work environments encourage others to join the organization!
Labour Relations is more than simply learning about work rules and discipline. It is about relationships. It is about the relationship the organization has with its employees, the people it hires to get work done and how workers create value for their customers. Life becomes not only easier but more rewarding when we, in management, have the necessary skills to be successful. Labour relations is the core reality of the cultures you manage and it is important to gain those skills and to help put everyone on the path to success.
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