I like to get results.
My philosophy is to seek out partners we can work with and then build good relationships. I look at our employers as partners, people that we can hopefully have a good relationship with in order to achieve the things our members are looking for.
This is different than the approach employed by some people that look at management as the enemy. I know that a good relationship is not always possible – both parties need to want it, and if management doesn’t want to play ball, fine – I can do it the old way.
But what about when a difficult issue arises, a potential source of conflict? I don’t run away from it – in fact with a good working relationship, it’s often easier to resolve problems. There is an effective approach I like – it’s to “be hard on the issue, but soft on the people”. By focusing on the real issues, and by not making it personal or taking “cheap” shots, I can achieve better results for IBEW members.
A great example of this occurred once when we had a number of long-term temporary employees and I’d been working to achieve regular status for them. One day I happened to be at an external meeting and I sat next to NB Power CEO Gaëtan Thomas. Because we’ve both worked to build a good relationship, we’re able to discuss issues in a frank and open manner.
That day we ended up talking about the temporaries, and I was able to put forth the business case for changing their status. Gaëtan was interested in the points I raised and followed up by having his people look into it.
To make a long story short, that informal conversation started the ball rolling and many of those temporaries ended up gaining regular status. If I had tried to achieve that goal the old way – threatening grievances, work slow-downs, or writing nasty letters, I know I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. But by valuing the relationship, and treating the issue as a joint problem that we could work on together to find a solution, we achieved real results. A win-win result.
And that’s what it’s all about.