I would like to begin this article by saying that in the past 12 years of managing employees of various kitchens that managing union kitchens has made me a better manager of people. I have no doubt that some of our readers are currently managing kitchens that are unionized and have found it to be the most difficult experience that they have ever had. I can most certainly agree with them. But as I have been gaining more experience in this area I can offer my advice and share some of the tools that have helped me grow.
In the early years of the development of the industrialization of our country, unions formed to protect workers from sever working conditions, poor pay, closed company communities, and many other atrocities. But as we walk into the new millennium of industrialization many questions arise to the need for unionization. Questions like: why do we even need unions when we have government agencies, and wouldn't companies want to create a safe work place to avoid getting sued? These are definitely valid questions though I don't think that they answer the real question at had and that is why are unions still around and how does that affect management.
Today's management of labor has changed a great deal since the 1800's, though we are still plagued by so many old problems wrapped in new names that bring fear to the working class. Fears known as downsizing, performance upgrades, and reclassification, and so many more. These fears play a big part in the motivation of many unions to encourage membership. So Through my experience and the experience of others I have some helps that may make your job easier.
Things that a manager should always strive for:
A.) Always be honest and upright in your dealings with all of your employees. Integrity goes along way with any relationship that you have, working or none working. Remember to look at the employee's situation and to approach them the same way that everyone would want to be approached.
B.) Develop excellent listing skills. This skill was actually taught to me by my children. I found out that I experienced less frustration when trying to communicate with my children when. I have to first engage them into the conversation before I can ask something of them. What I mean by this is that it takes effort to actually connect with them when trying to communicate with them. This is done by asking a simple question like; " how was your day?" or " do you have a moment that I can ask you a question?" You will know when you have engaged someone in conversation because you will see physical signs that they not only hear you but that they are listening. The employee will begin to look at you and that they emotionally are involved with what your are discussing. Sometimes you will know by the comments that the employee makes or just by the look on the employee's face. This is so important when initiating conversation with an employee.
C.) Be consistently fair in your standards. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing another employee getting treated better or favored over others. This can be a very hard thing not to do and difficult to maintain a standard where there is no incentive for behavior or attitude. For example, let's say you have two employees, Tom and Sue. Sue always seems to come in with a cheery attitude at the beginning of the shift and Tom is well let's say, not much excites him. It would be easy to favor Sue for her expressed attitude over Tom. However, neither employee has done anything outside what they were hired for, good or bad. Unless the position that the employees share requires the employees to produce a certain aspect of performance, they should not be given preference or penalized. Remember that what you want from your employees may not be acceptable or accomplishable from everyone. Try to keep the standards the same for all of your employees, regardless of personal preferences.
D.) Avoid creating fear or cynicism in the working environment. Look for ways to verbally encourage employees. Keep employees as informed as possible about upcoming changes that will be taking place in the work environment, and let the employee become part of the change. Avoid trendy management terminology that would create common language barriers such as; synergy, paradigm. These terms can be very condescending and not very employee friendly, and create a language barrier between the employer and the employee on the most basic part of the relationship.
E.) Learn to avoid the following pitfall personalities of managing:
THE NICE GUY APPROACH: This is the manager who seems to be everyone's friend and tries to keep peace at all cost. This person is non-confrontational to a fault and even though they smile a lot and are easy to be around. They are a hard person to work for because they never seem to manage beyond the moment, hence there always seems to be a fire to put out. This person often has clutter in their life, whether it is emotional, professional or appearance, things just seem to be everywhere but the right place. Often the Nice Guy makes up for their lack of organization by giving everyone around them an added sense of grace, hoping that they too will be allowed to experience the same.
THE WHIPPERSNAPPER: This person is out to make everyone tow the line, no matter who it is. They see every thing as black and white, and have very high standards for everyone around them and themselves. Often this person will also be seen as the Superman, trying to do it all to keep up with their own high standards. As this person begins interacting with others, they are often seen as rude and arrogant, but unreality what they are inhuman. They look at employees with out seeing them as human beings, preventing this person from being able to approach others in a way that will be cohesive to the work place.
THE MANIPULATOR: This person is someone whom we have all come into contact with. They can be sly or passive, but no matter what they always seem to get their way. They always seem to be doing someone a "favor", and when they do you a favor, you know that you had better watch out. You always get the feeling that this manager is always up to something and you are just a pawn in their plan. They always have an excuse as to why something went wrong, but it never seems to be their fault. This person needs to be watched carefully, they can lead to the downfall to any organization.
SUPERMAN: "I can do it all", is the motto of this manager, they have a superhuman mentality to accomplish everything and more. One of the faults of this person is that they do try to do it all and in the process never accomplish anything in full. Everything around them is left somewhat incomplete. This person tends not to trust others with a complete task, and is always checking up on his coworkers.
DEMI GOD: the Demi God is someone we all know so well, they seem to be all of the above characters at different times to different people. The one characteristic of this person is that they are always in charge. They carry themselves around like royalty and everyone else is their subordinate This person is meticulous about every thing and tends to hold it against people who aren't.
In closing, I have found that the most important, yet hardest thing to do is to maintain a positive attitude while being above reproach. Integrity is a very hard thing to attain from someone else, and an even harder thing to maintain.