Did you see the movie “A League of Their Own”? It’s based on the women’s professional baseball league during World War II.
In the movie, one of the players wants to quit because baseball is too hard. Her manager rebukes her by saying “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”
That also applies to beginning a joint labor-management process. Making the change to cooperative methods is hard. It’s not the way we normally do things, it requires teamwork, it can be take time to get things started, and it requires trust. Above all, it represents a significant change in the workplace, and that creates fear.
Just as in the movie, the fact it is hard is why we should do it. Building labor-management teamwork pays great benefits in the workplace. Costs can be cut, new products introduced, and competitiveness enhanced by using the knowledge and skills of everyone.
Making the change to cooperation requires commitment and trust. Unless the leadership of both management and labor are committed to the process, there will be no support for it or the outcomes. Without trust, the open sharing of information, concerns, interests, and ideas cannot happen.
It takes a leap of faith. Not everyone will buy in at first, and there is a definite learning curve as the new processes are introduced. Commitment from everyone involved is necessary to build trust and stay the course. We have seen many organizations that have successfully overcome the difficulty and transform themselves, using a cooperative model involving labor and management to drive the organization forward.
It is hard to do, but the hard is what makes it great.