Archives for June 2014

Spring 2014 Article Recap

Stephanie Noel, Queen's IRC Business Development ManagerAs we prepare to enjoy the long-awaited summer with our family and friends, I would like to take a minute to thank all the sponsors, and the participants who attended programs this spring. Congratulations to those who have earned their certificates.

This year, we began offering programs in Ottawa, in our continued effort to meet the professional development needs of human resources, organizational development, and labour relations practitioners. We also continued to extend our international presence with our partnership with the University of the West Indies.

In the past year, we have produced over 80 videos including a Tip of the Week series, Q&A interviews with our facilitators and experts, and videos about our programs. Our Director, Paul Juniper, has been invited to speak at a number of conferences and events, and we are always open to new opportunities for speaking engagements.

We will be releasing our practitioner-focused research on the State of HR in Canada this fall, as we tour across the country. We will also be offering a special promotion for team training – watch for details on the volume discount for our fall programs.

I am proud of the work we are doing at Queen’s IRC and I encourage you to take a few minutes to review the excellent papers and articles we have released this spring.

  • Developing Organizations: A Metaphorical View – Brenda Barker Scott
  • The Future of Unions in Canada’s Private Sector: How Can Unions Overcome their PR Problem? – Stephanie Noel
  • The Way Forward in Employment Relations – Using Social Dialogue as a Means of Improving the Organizational Effectiveness of a Credit Union – Christa Sankarsingh
  • Recruiting Talent Using Applicant Tracking Systems – Lori Stewart
  • Change Management 101: What Every Change Manager and Change Leader Needs to Know BEFORE Jumping into Implementation – Sharon Parker
  • The Professionalization of Human Resources – Claude Balthazard
  • Young Workers and the Union Movement in Canada – Stephanie Noel
  • The Government of Alberta’s Organizational Design Journey : The Ministry of Innovation and Advanced Education’s experience using the 4-D process – Marina Christopherson, Dianna Wilk and Judi Carmichael
  • Enhancing Your Strategic Value as a Human Resources Professional: Playing to Win in HR- Kevin Yousie
  • Managing People and Labour Relations in Municipal Government – Terry Wagar

Strategic Grievance Management in Today’s Unionized Environment

Strategic Grievance Management in Today’s Unionized EnvironmentThe word “strategic” gets thrown around pretty loosely these days – it’s one of those business buzz words meant to instill confidence that we’ve thought this through and it’s all under control: trust us, we’ve got a strategic plan!

But there’s more to it than just calling something “strategic”.  The term “strategic” implies there is a thoughtful, organized strategy guiding your efforts; that a particular issue has been viewed in the broader context and your decision to proceed is based on the impacts that decision will have across the organization. More so than any other time in history, employers in today’s unionized workplaces need to view their union-management relationships, and their dispute resolution efforts, through a holistic, strategic lens. We can no longer afford to deal with issues and complaints in isolation. As bargaining agents become more sophisticated in using dispute mechanisms to further their corporate agendas, so too must employers.

There are three key elements to being strategic about conflict management:

  • Know where you want to be 3, 5 and even 10 years out in terms of your relationship with your bargaining agent partners;
  • Develop dispute resolution mechanisms and goals that help get you there; and,
  • Keep your eye on the end game – don’t be distracted along the way.

Analyze your response to each conflict or grievance in light of your future goals, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does this grievance tell us about the state of our relationship(s) at the local level?
  • Is the grievance really just an individual dispute, or does it represent a matter of principle to either party?
  • How is this grievance connected to other issues or disputes in the workplace?
  • Will settling (or pursuing) this grievance get us closer to (or divert us from) our longer term goals?
  • Might our response to this grievance jeopardize our relationship with the union?
  • Can we resolve the grievance in a way that results in an incremental change that will ultimately get us where we want to be?
  • Is this the right fact situation on which to arbitrate the issue – should we settle this and look for a more favourable set of facts to put before an arbitrator?
  • Could settling this grievance in the union’s favour represent an opportunity to trade off for something that is more important to the employer?
  • Rather than pursuing arbitration on this grievance, would we be better served by dealing with the underlying issue through dialogue with the union, whether through regular/standing union-management committees, or more formal mediation processes?

As valued strategic partners, labour relations professionals must be accountable for assisting clients to manage relationships with their unions. So make sure you’ve considered all the implications of a decision to settle, mediate or arbitrate – there’s just no sense settling a grievance if all it does is result in less clarity and further conflict. Look at every conflict as a potential opportunity to improve the relationship between the parties, or provide clarity to the principles and rules that govern the workplace. Now that’s strategic!

About the Author

Lori AselstineLori Aselstine has over 33 years of experience with the Government of Ontario, most of which was in the human resources (HR) field. She held positions such as director of Ontario Public Service labour relations, director of Broader Public Sector labour relations and director of strategic human resources business. During her time with the Ontario Public Service, Lori established a reputation as a skilled relationship-builder and problem-solver. She retired in 2014 to work full-time on her organic farm.

Queen’s IRC Tip of the Week Videos – Spring 2014

2014 Tip of the Week videosThroughout the Spring 2014 program season, Queen’s IRC released a video “Tip of the Week” from our expert facilitators and speakers each week via our social media sites. These are the “Tip of the Week” videos we released in Spring 2014:

View the Tip of the Week videos released in Fall 2013

Check out all the videos on the Queen’s IRC YouTube channel and join us online for new videos, articles and information:

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