The Role of Unions in Improving and Disrupting an Organization's Culture

Topics: Trade union, Collective bargaining, Organizational culture Pages: 12 (3934 words) Published: September 13, 2008
The Role of Unions in Improving and Disrupting an Organization’s Culture

Describing and identifying the importance of abstract terms is a difficult task because their meaning rely more on substance than form. For this and other reasons, individuals as well as organizations tend to overlook or underestimate their importance for a successful career and for the effective functioning of an organization. “Organizational Culture” is one of those terms, we can’t see it, but we can feel and experience it, and it has a profound impact in the way people behave in an organization. It denotes the attitudes, experiences, beliefs, and values of the work group or team within the organization, which to an extent affect the organization as a whole. All employees whatever their grade is, and whether they are professionals or not, contribute to the culture of an organization by bringing their diverse talents, knowledge, skills, values, and beliefs to the entity. Employees may possess abilities and talents that might enable them to fit into the organization and empower it, partly as a result of socialization, but they might need assistance from others, such as Human Resource Development specialists and Union cooperative efforts, in order to learn the skills that will enable them to play their part in the team, group, or department.

The culture of an organization is important not only to individuals but to the organization itself. This makes culture an important part of every organization and union leaders and management need to understand the central role it plays in forming an effective organization. Union understanding of the important role culture play for an organization is essential since the recognition of unions and the labor agreement usually means structural changes to an organization’s policies, practices, strategies, and the environment. According to Neal M. Ashkanasy, author of the book Handbook of Organizational Culture and Climate, more and more practitioners are coming to realize that, despite the best-laid plans, organizational change must include not only changing structures and processes, but also changing the corporate culture as well. Unions can play a role in creating and changing an organization’s culture, since they are in a position to provide the workforce with information designed to influence decisions about work practices, rules, preferred behaviors and attitudes, etc. Management as well as staff developers need, therefore, to communicate frequently with trade union officers.

Improving organizational culture has become a necessity in today's ever- changing business environment. However, it can be a big challenge for the organization and its members. Managing in a union environment can be frustrating and confusing. Managers in a unionized workplace are challenged to manage effectively within legal and contractual parameters. This make the decision-making process more difficult for managers who must count with the union approval for many decisions and changes that might conflict with the labor agreement. If managers are not flexible in outcome, or are too specialized, then the organization may become too narrowly focused and the motivation and creative thought, a necessary precursor for innovation may be stiffed. Also, although individual ideas are important, strategies for team-working are essential. One of the primary responsibilities of strategic leaders is to create and maintain the organizational characteristics that reward and encourage collective effort (Neal M. Ashkanasy, 10). Individuals should be motivated to work as part of a team sharing a common vision of the direction in which they would like the organization to develop. To this end, unions are one of the most effective institutions that can be used to bring people that share common interests, goals, and principles together and motivate them to work as a team, since the mechanism of the union itself encourages team...
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