Managing poor performance on shop floor

Despite union environment, managers can step up and speak out
By Cy Charney
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 08/15/2011

When it comes to managing unionized people, there is a continuous philosophical battle between people who are from the labour relations school of management and those from the employee relations school. Both have different strategies that, in turn, have enormous implications for organizational performance.

The labour relations school takes a tough line in dealing with a union and its members. Managers are trained to follow the letter of the collective agreement and discipline anyone who breaches the rules and guidelines set out in the contract.

That could mean every time an employee arrives five minutes late from a break, she should expect a verbal warning from her supervisor that will then be noted in the employee’s file. How would this impact the relationships between managers and employees? Negatively, for sure. The employee would most likely view the manager as unreasonable. After all, if she came five minutes early, would she get a pat on the back? Not likely.