Conference focuses on personnel management.
That was the message of Gordon Graham, CEO of Gordon Graham & Co., Seattle, Washington, an international authority on developing strategies for constructive change. He was a featured speaker at the recent AFS Labor Relations and Human Resources conference held January 15-17, 1992. It was attended by 80 foundry management and labor executives who explored ways to manage change while maintaining human dignity and arbitrating personal differences.
Words, Graham said, can trigger different mental pictures and feelings in different people. They are containers for individual experiences, holding images that hearing a particular word evokes. Thus, to one person work can mean merely trading time for money and to another it can mean trading pay for value given. One can be unpleasant, the other, rich in experience.
Graham said that preconditioned beliefs are the greatest barriers to change, followed closely by habits and attitudes. For many, perception is truth, a blind spot to reality. He said that change requires courage to move beyond individual "comfort zones or levels of expectation." Giving workers a vision of shared input, involvement, belief, accountability, creativity and energy that is stronger than what may be current reality is the essential mark of any well-ordered company.
In his remarks, Gerald Hoglund of the Chicago law firm of Wood/Sprau/Tannura reinforced the need for more communication between workers at all levels to improve the workplace. He called for increasing job appraisal interviews, adding that jobs and people change and increasing personal communication intervals would allow better job coaching and counseling or recognize and reward superior input.
He reported that 83% of employees expressed dissatisfaction with performance reviews, citing perceived lack of understanding, honesty or motives. A good appraisal should provide positive reinforcement for job assessment (skills, knowledge, expectations, rules, biases), listening and self-assessment.
James Hatfield, an AFL-CIO vice president and labor activist, said that U.S. industries, especially labor-intensive ones like the foundry industry, are feeling the growing intensity of global competition largely because our national priorities over the last decade have been mishandled.
Issues like sexual harassment (he advises foundries to post notices against it), AIDS, ill-conceived leveraged buyouts, an out-of-control national debt and the balance of trade deficit are some of the problems draining our effectiveness in the marketplace. Hatfield said the proposed North American Free Trade Zone would hurt American labor, adversely impacting the economy, and he strongly urged the backing of a national health plan. A positive sign for the country, he concluded, is that more companies and unions are working together to improve working conditions and solving social ills.
Leland Cross, an Indianapolis, Indiana, labor attorney with Ice, Miller, Donadio & Ryan, however, contended that collective bargaining is and should be an adversarial process to resolve fundamental differences between management and labor. He chose the issue of subcontracting, viewed by management as a right and opposed by organized labor as a classic example of a bargaining unit agenda that both labor and management seek to control.
The process, Cross contended, needs total management input to determine strategies and he offered the following points for bargainers to consider.
* let the other side make proposals and respond with counterproposals;
* control the bargaining agenda;
* keep the other side on the defensive and don't counteroffer capricious proposals;
* don't pity the other side and don't amend the agreement;
* don't make nonattainable proposals or seek rights you don't have.
Cross was strong in his dislike for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because it disadvantages managements' right to control job skill and ability requirements. He feels it opens the floodgates to litigations without merit.
The litany of present American healthcare woes was outlined by Larry North, a managing director of William M. Mercer, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. He quipped that the main cause of skyrocketing medical costs was the pen in a doctor's pocket. Real causes, he said, are too many doctors and hospital rooms, high fixed costs for hospitals, an aging population, cost shifting by the government, the rising expense of medical technology and society's health expectations.
Although the U.S. has more MDs per capita than in 1960, American health has not improved. North's suggestions for reducing the medical cost burden: install unit price controls, shift burden more toward the patient but use indexing to determine payment rate as a function of ability to pay, give credits for healthy life-style and membership in wellness programs.
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|Date:||Mar 1, 1992|
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