Participation or Pseudo-Participation? Change Agent Challenges in Implementing Organizational Change
Kate Sikerbol, Queen's IRC Facilitator, 2016
Creating energy, engagement, and commitment to change initiatives is one of many challenges we face as change agents. Increasingly, organizations, managers, and change practitioners espouse a belief that involving people in the change initiative is important. Many of us would agree in principle with this philosophy: Participation is essential to successful change implementation. However, the practical dimension of how to actually accomplish employee participation in change initiatives poses a challenge to change implementers.
What do HR managers involved in a major change initiatives actually do to foster employee participation? Researchers Laurie Lewis and Travis Russ (2012) explored this question in an empirical study with 26 human resources managers. They investigated the actual practices that HR managers utilized to solicit and use employee input during major organizational change projects. The study identified four different approaches that are described below: open, political, restricted, and advisory.
The Future of Labour
Derik McArthur, Director, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) local 175 & 633, 2015
The labour movement in Canada has a long and proud history of success and positive community involvement. Throughout the years however, union membership levels across North America have been on a steady decline. Many would argue the decline in the ranks of unions is attributed to stronger labour laws protecting workers, less interest by the young workers entering the workforce and a more transient workforce demanding flexibility and merit over seniority. These arguments, although attractive on the surface, are easily discredited with a minimal amount of research and thought. Some would argue that legislation is in place to protect workers’ rights. However, the legislation traditionally provides basic minimums in employment. Like any piece of legislation, the rights an employee enjoys and relies on can be taken away with the stroke of a pen. Corporate lobbying has taken a toll on legislation designed to protect workers, leaving gaps and holes making the legislation toothless when enforcement is required. Unions are still needed to protect workers, and they are an important part of the future of labour. There are still many workers who work in less than ideal conditions. But like any other organization, unions need to change and adapt to the changing world.
Currently, fast food workers across the United States are engaging in a sort of wildcat strikes to demand a living wage of $15 per hour. These workers are subjected to minimal compensation rates, little to no benefits or pensions and unstructured and unreliable scheduling, all while reading about record corporate profits and CEO’s making anywhere from $7 million to $22 million a year. In the past, these workers normally would have organized and formed a union within their workplace in an effort to have a voice in their working conditions. However, they chose not to take that path. Not because they didn't want to form a union, but because forming a union has become too cumbersome and formalized through legislation and litigation in the U.S. These workers decided not to take the traditional path of unionization to demand better working conditions, and instead they chose the grass roots path to withhold labour in return for better wages.
The Golden Rules of Fact-Finding: Six Steps to Developing a Fact-Finding Plan
Lori Aselstine, Queen's IRC Coach, 2013
As labour relations professionals, we are required to engage in fact-finding on a regular basis. Good fact-finding ensures that the information upon which we form our conclusions and recommendations is credible, and that our advice is evidence-based.
When planned and executed properly, fact-finding provides a solid foundation for conducting analyses, forming conclusions, generating options and formulating sound recommendations. Fact-finding may involve researching documents or existing records and data, holding focus groups, interviewing witnesses, or using written surveys and questionnaires. The techniques employed will depend on the project or issue under consideration. What is constant across all fact-finding missions is the need for a plan to guide and document your efforts.
Developing a good fact-finding plan starts with figuring out what you need to know – what information do you have to have in order to form an evidence-based opinion. The precursors to good fact-finding include scoping the issue to determine what it is you need to answer, understanding the context within which the issue has arisen, and appreciating the "political" landscape (organizational and personal relationships often play a significant role in shaping a witness' view of a matter) – all of these things can influence the approach you take to any given fact-finding endeavour.