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Dear Workforce How Do We Promote Professional Development in a Union Shop?

Which performance-management and professional-development strategies would work best in a nonprofit, public-sector, unionized environment? More specifically, which type of incentives and learning culture are needed for employees to embrace professional development when job security is not an issue, under-performance is difficult to address, guaranteed salaries are negotiated by the union, and there is no room for bonuses?
March 31, 2005
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Related Topics: Career Development, Labor Relations, Employee Career Development, Dear Workforce
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Dear Quizzical:

It sounds as though you want to create a culture whereby employees take initiative for their personal learning to support organizational needs. But your question also implies that you are experiencing a compliance culture, in which employees worry only about tasks they are accountable for performing.
Consistent with compliance cultures are employees who typically act in their own interest, and even when they seem to act in the interest of the organization, they do so at the expense of others (such as those in another department).
They likely feel secure in their jobs, with little motivation to improve their performance. You probably would be surprised if an employee went above and beyond what is normally expected to accomplish a task or serve a customer. You also may have problems with work groups that function poorly, employees who never seem to get along, and unresolved communication issues--all have an impact on your organization's effectiveness.
Creating a workplace culture that inspires employees to choose accountability for specific outcomes requires them to have information, power and training. For most companies, this demands a significant shift in thinking about employee capabilities and what's required for them to do their jobs. It involves developing learning practices that encourage experimentation, broad sharing of information, and transferring knowledge and expertise in a variety of ways.
Employees must see the big picture and be able to influence change before they choose commitment and accountability. Core employees must become highly literate about the organization, including knowledge of political pressures, budgetary constraints, department functions and needs, customer demands, internal relationships and other factors. Create labor/management partnerships that support problem-solving and decision-making.
Essentially, you must trust core workers with the tools typically reserved for managers. This usually is thought of as rewarding employees who prove themselves. In reality, providing these things in the first place engenders a culture of employee ownership and commitment.
SOURCE: Kevin Herring, president, Ascent Management Consulting
LEARN MORE:Good Union Relationships Are Best.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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