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How Coors' Peer Review Process Works

February 1, 1994
Related Topics: Vision, Labor Relations, Featured Article
The peer review system at Golden, Colorado-based Coors Brewing Co. enables employees to dispute any disciplinary action against them. Workers wishing to do so must file an appeal form with their employee-relations manager within seven days. The employee-relations manager then sets up an appeal board consisting of three of the appellant's co-workers and two managers, randomly selected (see the main story for how these board members are selected). To keep everyone in the organization eligible to serve on the board, and to eliminate the perception of management influence on board members, the company doesn't conduct any employee training on what to do as a board member. Individuals chosen to serve on the board receive instructions upon entering the hearing to be active listeners, to ask questions and to have an open mind. They're also briefed on the importance of confidentiality.

Before having their cases heard by the appeal board, the appellant and his or her manager must make a good-faith effort to resolve the issue by sharing all appropriate information. This process has resulted in the pre-hearing resolution of an average of 26% of appealed cases within the last ten years.

Once at the hearing, the supervisor and the employee make presentations to the board in consecutive order. The supervisor should describe the work area he or she handles, outline department procedures and explain company policy. He or she should present all relevant materials, such as written warnings, accident reports and witness statements.

The appellant's responsibility includes explaining why the supervisor's action wasn't correct and suggesting a remedy. He or she also should present the board with written support, such as meeting notes, witness statements and details from related incidents. Only information with which both parties are familiar is permissible. The company encourages both parties to use visual aids, such as flip charts and overhead projectors.

An employee-relations manager chairs the meetings and makes all decisions pertaining to submission of information and witnesses. The chairperson also must interpret personnel policies and direct the flow of the hearings.

Board members are allowed to ask pertinent questions of both the supervisor and the appellant. Once they are comfortable that they have enough information, they ask the chairperson to dismiss the two parties from the room. They then discuss the case. Their responsibility is to decide whether there was a violation of policy and, if so, if the disciplinary action was appropriate. The board decides by vote to uphold the supervisor's decision, overturn it or modify it. A simple majority rules. The decision of the board is final and binding on both the appellant and supervisor and can't be appealed to a higher authority.

A second employee-relations manager, who takes notes of the proceedings, draws up a summary report that documents the decision and briefly captures the key elements of the proceedings. Specifics of the board discussion are kept confidential. All board members must sign the report, which both parties receive.

Personnel Journal , February 1994, Vol.73, No. 2, p. 56.

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