If you are planning on instituting a long-term goal in your company, you’ll want to consider the best way to bring the union leadership onboard. Communication continues to play a huge role in the success of your relationship with your union leadership. In a previous post, Stephen Koppekin of Koppekin Consulting, Inc. provided excellent advice on developing a respectful relationship early on with your union.
Communication remains the single most effective tool when discussing long-term goals. The last thing you will want to do is wait until the last moment to spring an idea on the leadership board and the union. If you do this, you’ll face a possible work shortage. Work stoppage should be avoided at all costs. The best thing to do is involve the union as soon as possible so you can anticipate and address all concerns as the project develops.
Even if the goal is detrimental to the employees, by keeping them in the loop early, they’ll feel more at ease with the change. This will also guarantee more time for you to work with them and offer support during the process.
Stephen Koppekin gives an example to illustrate the power of this advice. Imagine that a member of the real estate tax board shows up at your doorstep tomorrow with a letter in hand, stating that that today they’ll be raising your taxes 40%. There is no explanation or time for arrangements. You’ll need to provide the funds immediately.
The natural emotion to feel is shock, then anger. How could the Tax Board make such a declaration?
Now, imagine that the the Tax Board sent you a letter in the mail stating that they’ll be raising your taxes 40% beginning in five years. In the letter, they ask that you contact them in order to discuss the different methods of working out the payment and the process.
You may feel still feel shocked, however, the chances are that you’ll respond with a calmer, more rational approach.
While the end result is still the same, the the Tax Board has a much better chance at resolving many of the customer’s issues when using the second approach. Why? Open communication early and often is the best way to make a long-term change.
This example can offer a direct parallel to those working with unions. The sooner you’re able to announce the project, the better chance you’ll have at maintaining the existing relationship. It’s important to keep in mind that consistent communication remains the guiding principle when working with unions at every stage in the project.