Avoiding Union Implementation with
Improved Managerial Style and Communication

The client is a multi-state manufacturer and marketer of dairy foods,
including fluid milk; sour cream; cottage cheese; and other dairy products.

Case Studies

Note: I work capably with, and respect both union and non-union shops, and their people. The common denominator of my work is people; I help achieve results beneficial to both management and employees. I’ve included this case study because it underscores success in alleviating the conditions that prompted employees to approve a vote to unionize or not.

Problem

Due to how some managers and foremen disrespectfully communicated with them, employees authorized a union vote which failed by single digits. Because of the closeness of the results, another vote was planned as soon as allowable. Plant management was dismayed that employees believed they were dealt with harshly, unfairly, and disrespectfully, and was determined to correct this. In addition, management was confident that it could work more agreeably and effectively with employees instead of with employees and a union or third party. Customers would ultimately be better served as well.

Solution

1. Fact finding discussions and assessments were conducted with management and some employees. After this consultation, management was informed that its objectives could not be met unless it was willing to implement substantial improvements in how managers, supervisors, and foremen communicated and worked with their employees. Management agreed to proceed.

2. Information-gathering interviews were conducted with a number of employees selected by both management and employees for candid input. After analysis, the results were used to develop an improvement program. In effect, this was a pre-test.

3. Coaching sessions were conducted individually with managers; supervisors; and foremen based on the specific needs identified for each. Summaries of the sessions were provided to their managers, with on the shop floor assignments between sessions.

4. Group training sessions were conducted with the above groups where the need for common skills had been identified. This provided all of them with a common platform of skills to use, and saved time and budget.

5. Employee input and feedback were solicited during the program to be certain it was meeting its objectives, and to make adjustments as needed.

6. Information-gathering interviews were conducted again with the same employees as a post-test, so before and after results could be compared. Significant improvements were reported; some managers continued to receive follow-up coaching and training as needed.

Results

The next union vote failed by a much larger margin, resulting in a future vote not being planned or scheduled.

Employees reported that managers, supervisors and foremen talked with them respectfully; listened to their concerns and ideas instead of dismissing them; and asked for their input.

Far more positive feedback was given; good performance was reinforced; improvements were made in several areas.

Employees became much more willing to make job, schedule, and work changes and improvements.

Dialogue and discussions were used to resolve concerns instead of arguments and demands.

Management reported cost savings and reduced coordination time in meeting customer needs in the plant and warehouse.

 Free people to communicate & do more productive work.

Conversations at Work helps people in organizations have the workplace
conversations they’ve been avoiding—and improve productivity.

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