Queen's University IRC

Research Briefs – November 2016

Queen’s University IRC - Research Briefs

   Bringing Practitioner-Focused Research to People Management Practitioners

Nov 2016   

 

 
 

In This Issue…

  1. A Futurist’s Look at IR/HR – Why it’s Time to Start Over
  2. Learning the Art of Painting the HR Landscape
  3. Flashback Feature:
    Work Re-organization in Canada: An Overview of Developments
 Celebrating 175 years at Queen’s University 
 

A Futurist’s Look at IR/HR – Why it’s Time to Start Over
2015 Don Wood Lecture in Industrial Relations
Peter Edwards, Vice-President of Human Resources and Labour Relations at Canadian Pacific, 2016

The 2015 Don Wood Lecture was delivered by Peter Edwards, Vice-President Human Resources and Labour Relations at Canadian Pacific. In the lecture, Peter spoke about the future of work, including the changes that are taking place in organizations as new technology emerges, how these changes affect workers (particularly unionized workers) and how the HR and labour relations processes, like collective bargaining, need to evolve.

Topics include:

  • How technology (notably cellphones/smartphones) have changed the way we live, and will continue to change the way we live (ie: self-driving cars).
  • How automation in certain industries will replace human workers (including in the railroad industry) and the far-reaching impact this will have.
  • The need to change the collective bargaining process and new techniques for negotiating collective agreements, including the author’s personal experience.
  • Change management and the need for organizations to continue to change and evolve to stay alive in the future.

The Don Wood Lecture in Industrial Relations was established by friends of W. Donald Wood to honour his outstanding contribution to Canadian industrial relations. Dr Wood was Director of the Industrial Relations Centre from 1960 to 1985, and the first Director of the School of Industrial Relations, established in 1983. The lecture brings to Queen’s University distinguished individuals who have made an important contribution to industrial relations in Canada or other countries. Peter is the first Don Wood lecturer to be a graduate of the MIR program that Dr. Wood established. Fall 2015 marked the 30th anniversary of Peter’s graduation from this program.

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Learning the Art of Painting the HR Landscape
What Aunt Sally and Others Can Teach HR Professionals About Communicating “Up“

Sandi Cardillo, Queen’s IRC Advanced HR Facilitator, 2014

It’s Saturday morning in cottage country. You’re hugging a cup of coffee on the porch. The mist is just clearing from the lake. The view from the deck is stunning. The geese are feeding at the shoreline. A hawk circles above the pines in the distance. Waves lap the deck, reminding you that you promised your cousin a kayaking lesson later this morning. He’s coming with your Aunt Sally on the train as part of the adventure. Aunt Sally recently discovered plein art painting. “Bring the SUV to the station,” she said. “I have the easel.”

Your mind is on the meeting you were invited to in ten days with the Director of Really Big Stuff. Your assignment: present your thoughts on the two-year view of the strategic people project that became your task when you accepted your new role as business unit support human resources leader for your division. It’s big and you’re just getting your head around it.

“Keep it simple,” her executive assistant said. “She doesn’t want to know about the trees, just the forest. I’ve seen her chew others up when they start talking about the trees. She doesn’t have time for the trees. She takes care of the forest and lets those taking care of the trees do their job. Sorry about the metaphor, but I wanted to give you a head’s up.”

“Wow,” you think. “The forest. Not the trees. Every presentation I made in my last role was all about the trees. My manager wanted the details. He wanted to know that I had a firm grasp of everything and had tied it all up in a nice, neat package. My team members wanted the same thing – to know that I had their back and they could see it in the spreadsheets I’d prepared.”

“How the heck do I approach this?” you think. “I’ve got twenty minutes to cover my thoughts on a two-year seriously strategic project?” Then you remember the Queen’s IRC Advanced HR course your new manager had asked you to attend when you accepted the role in the business unit. At the time it was still pretty new, and frankly, slightly overwhelming to make the transition from subject matter expert to business unit support leader. You remember something from that session about turning the curve on the way to the next level and how things at the next level require a different kind of thinking.

>> Download Article

Flashback Feature:
Work Re-organization in Canada: An Overview of Developments
Andrew Sharpe, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, 1995

The current restructuring of the Canadian economy is leading to a number of workplace changes, designed both to increase the productivity and competitiveness performance of firms and improve the work environment for employees. Workplace change is a general concept that encompasses a number of specific developments that are affecting Canadian workplaces. These developments include, but are not limited to, changes in work organization, changes in remuneration systems, increased emphasis on customer orientation and product quality, and of course technological change. This paper provides a comprehensive overview of the first aspect of workplace change, namely work organization, or more appropriately work re-organization through increased employee participation in decision-making. As well, other aspects of workplace change will at times be referred to given the close interrelationships between the different aspects of workplace change.

The paper is divided into six main sections. Part one provides a discussion of the factors behind the push for workplace re-organization in Canada, both from the perspective of the employer and the employee. Part two looks at the various types of workplace organization, from the traditional Taylorist work structures, to worker participation schemes, to self-managed work teams. The third section looks at the evidence on workplace re-organization in Canada. The fourth section discusses the attitudes of labour and business to workplace re-organization. The fifth and final part, based on both the case studies and the literature, outlines ten lessons which come out of the experience in workplace reorganization. An Appendix is also included that lists Canadian workplaces identified as innovative in change.

>> Download Article

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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