Labor-management committees are not a new concept. While they were innovative at one time, today they often represent a continuation of adversarial labor-management relationships. Rather than solving labor-management problems, they often make them worse.
Cooperative, collaborative committees represent a new way of doing business for many organizations. They require the commitment from both labor and management to jointly identify and resolve the problems they both face.
This week, we want to begin to identify some of the characteristics of cooperative labor-management committees.
· Cooperative committees are based on team-based paradigms
It’s been said the best way to kill any idea is to assign it to a committee. This is because committee members often lack a common direction and goals. They flounder at cross purposes and cannot find effective solutions.
By comparison, members of a team have a common purpose and work together towards its achievement. Cooperative committees act in the same way, working as a team to solve problems.
· Cooperative committees use a non-adversarial process
In a traditional environment, labor and management treat each other as natural enemies. This wastes time and prevents each from collaborating to improve the organization. Effective committees avoid adversarial relations and work together.
· Members shift to new cooperative roles
Members commit to working together. By setting aside traditional behaviors in favor of cooperation, they can accomplish good things together.
· Labor and management act together proactively
Traditional labor-management committees operate in reactive mode. They meet when something has gone wrong and talk about it. Reacting does not permit the committee to address the larger concerns in the workplace. By working proactively to identify issues and resolve them, committees have a chance to improve the work system.
· There is an atmosphere of trust
Trust is essential for cooperative committees. Without it, members will be unable to share their concerns and offer possible solutions to problems.
· The team meets frequently on a regular schedule
Traditional committees meet infrequently or on an “as needed” basis. This makes it impossible to solve problems. Effective committees meet regularly, often monthly, and spend their time productively.
Next post, we will take a look at more characteristics of effective, cooperative labor-management committees.