A year ago when I accepted a challenge to deliver training to Union leaders in Marathi, several questions had flocked my mind.
How do Union leaders view behavioural training programs? Will the participants hijack the agenda of training program & make it an open house to vent their grievances to the Management? Is the Management serious about the training objectives or is to give participants a feel good factor or is the hidden agenda of amicably completing the process of revision of wage agreement.
I am glad what started as an experiment for me, successfully grew multi fold in a year’s time.
It’s been an eventful journey working with the Unions. In fact I have learned the most from these trainings. I find these participants unique in their attitude & approach and hence these trainings are more challenging than any other leadership trainings.
Several things that I learned while working with Unions & their well educated counterparts:
1. Education doesn’t make you smart. What really matters while working with Union is are you able to treat them as partners in working
2. Perception is reality. Your intentions may not matter if you are perceived wrongly. They are far more intelligent to read between the lines
3. You need to be smarter to implement your agenda; else it is highly possible of them to hijack the agenda by diverting it to a grievance session. (There have been instances where I had to ask the IR head to walk out of the training session, so we could focus on training objectives & not let the participants make it an open house)
4. To develop symbiotic working, you first need to work on bridging the credibility gap between the employer & the Union
5. To make your Union progressive & develop collaborative mindset, trust, transparency, mutual interests needs to be worked upon on sustained basis
6. To build responsible & responsive Union leaders, you need to invest in them. This facilitates positive contribution to the growth of an organization
7. Don’t interact only when there’s a problem. If you do so, the relationship will be built in stressful & tense situations. Instead foster positive relationships by rewarding positive behaviours. This will help to build trust on both sides.
What I really love about the interactions with Union members/leaders is it’s a unique integration of willingness to transform workshop learning’s with practical application & a genuine feedback of what worked & what did not. For me it’s been a profound personal transformation about decoding leadership lessons, understanding what really matters!