By Dr. Tom DePaoli See my book on Amazon Leadership by Storytelling for more leadership stories. When I took over as a new Employee Relations Manager there was a backlog of over a thousand unanswered grievances. The Employee Relations Manager position had been vacant for over six months and the grievances were not answered. No one had taken any initiative of answering the grievances. The atmosphere in the plant was hostile to say the least. The process for answering grievances and the stages was very well documented and clear. There were three stages to the process. The grievances had not even been answered at the first stage. Contractually you could not change the process unless the union agreed to the change.There were two administrative assistants that I had reporting to me. They were visibly upset and overwhelmed. We soon realized that the union just wanted the grievances answered. I remained positive and told them that I was sure that we could get through the grievances and answer them quickly. They were skeptical. I did tell them that we were under the gun or in a crisis mode. The union might file an unfair labor practices complaint against us if we did not get to work and answer the backlog of grievances.
We then decided to use an affinity-type tool often used in understanding the voice of the customer. We started to classify the grievances by type and soon discovered that generally there were only seven categories or types of grievances. Then with the help of a database that I set up, we entered all the grievances and sorted them by the agreed-to seven affinity types. We proceeded to craft similar but consistent answers to the grievances by affinity type and moved the all grievances out of the first step. The database gave us an advantage of answering the grievances consistently and quickly. We now had a history of our answers for future grievances.
The union was astounded that we had answered all the grievances, although many were not the answers that they wanted; they now had answers that they could show to their union members. We had introduced a professional way to track and answer future grievances. Be positive always but do not sugar coat a crisis.
Dr. Tom DePaoli, (Dr. Tom) is currently an independent management consultant, the Principal of Apollo Solutions, which does general business consulting in the human resources, supply chain and lean six sigma areas. His organization was self-founded in 1995. He retired as a Captain from the Navy Reserve. In other civilian careers, he was a supply chain and human resources executive with corporate purchasing turnaround experience and lean six sigma deployments. He has worked for over ten major companies and consulted for over fifty organizations throughout his career. Some of his consulting projects include: information systems projects, re-engineering organizations, transformation, e-procurement, e-commerce, change management, global sourcing and negotiating. His industry experience is in the chemical, paper, pharmaceutical, IT, automotive, government, consumer, equipment, services and consulting industries. He has been published extensively in journals, magazines and books. He is the author of eleven books all available on Amazon. He has instructed at six education facilities in numerous roles. He is active in supporting the YMCA, Wounded Warrior, and the prevention of the bullying of children.https://www.amazon.com/author/tomdepaoli = Dr. Tom’s Amazon author’s page
http://www.apollosolutions.us = website of Apollo Solutions his business
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/dr-thomas-depaoli/0/736/6b3/ = LinkedIn home page