Organizational Behaviour, University of Guelph last week for coffee. We talked about
current trends in change management and where our field is headed.
Organizational Change Masters program class was discussing how to lead change within
a unionized environment. We thought this would make a good blog post.
in Canada. Management and the union had good relations and I don’t recall any
union-specific challenges to the merger and cultural initiatives we
preferred to work with unions because the rules of engagement are clear and in
writing. He also said that you get the union you deserve, meaning that good
relationships breed good partnerships (and vice versa).
all others that are impacted by change and have influence over the
direction, evaluation and ultimately the success of it. You need to engage and
motivate these key players as you would anyone else. This will ensure they
visibly support the change and drive the behaviours that enable it, demonstrating
them to their membership.
impact union leadership and what role you need them to play:
- How will they (and their membership)
- How will they lose?
- What support do you need
- How motivated will they be
to support the change?
- What actions do you need to take to get
them on side?
with your change initiative:
- Meet with them prior to communicating
the change to explain:
the change is necessary for the long-term health of the organization. This is
the common purpose you will work toward.
- What other
options were considered
- Why it is
- What it
- What needs
to change and what will stay the same for the change to be successful
- How people
will be involved in the planning and transition phases
support (training, coaching, etc.) will be provided
- What will
happen and when
- Ask for feedback
- Discuss the role(s) that union
leadership will play in the change. It needs to be an important, visible and
- Commit to update meetings at key points
of the transition plan
partnership through change was in 1984 when Toyota and General Motors created a
joint venture called New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) that transformed an ailing GM factory in Fremont, California, into a highly
efficient producer of cars.
worst-quality producer to its highest. Labour relations followed a similar
transformation. Employees and their union embraced the Toyota production system
built on mutual trust and empowerment. Absenteeism dropped from 20% to
environment? The same way you do in a non-unionized one except for the
acknowledgement, engagement and motivation of another key stakeholder that can influence
the success of the change. This is an important step
that is sometimes missed.