Most people want a harmonious, collaborative labor-management relationship. The challenge is in how to foster such a relationship in the face of a changing economic, political, and social environment.
Economic uncertainties contribute to a climate of job insecurity, even if there hasn't been a history of layoffs, and increased pressure on department managers to run their operations efficiently. Most leadership teams recognize the importance of retaining strong team relationships in the face of these and other changes, and see a Union-Management partnership as essential to providing improved quality and innovative customer service.
The test of a "Good" relationship is whether we believe it provides us:
- What we want - solid substantive outcomes
- Peace of mind
- An ability to deal with differences.
If these basic needs are being met for one or both parties, any effort to improve the relationship will likely be unnecessary. The key to a relationship-building effort is a sincere acknowledgement by both parties that their relationship is difficult or unproductive, and that this situation should not continue. Then, the strength of their convictions will be tested by their willingness to provide resources and leadership for a re-building effort.
Furthermore, each party in the relationship must accept that it is at least partly responsible for the poor quality of the relationship. To focus entirely on the way the other party is treating them is a recipe for blame-letting, not relationship-building. The flip-side of this responsibility issue is a required acknowledgement that, if the relationship is to improve, some degree of change in their ways must be made by both parties.
The involvement of external facilitators can also help you to identify additional shortcomings in the mechanisms and procedures of interaction, e.g. agenda-setting, chairmanship, etc. Also, facilitation can reinforce a sustained focus on the process of interaction (as a balance to the more prevalent pre-occupation of committee members with the content of their work). The role of facilitator is different from the role of mediator. Essentially, a facilitator has more of a process orientation, as distinct from a task orientation.
Where the parties feel that their interaction is ineffective on a whole range of activities, if for example a breakdown of some sort has occurred, they may be prepared to focus specifically on the overall relationship itself. This is a more fundamental and challenging self-examination and self-improvement process.
SatiStar's facilitators enable each of the parties to explore their own long-term objectives and arrive at a common, shared set of objectives. This is a win-win environment.