Our experience of conducting a five days transformational leadership program together with union leaders and management
Situation. Company X is a leading manufacturing company in the world located in Pune. The Company enjoys excellent productivity, profit margins and has a near monopoly on its product. The workers are one of the best paid in the industry. However, despite these seemingly trouble / tension free market conditions, the working relations between the workers, the unions and the management had been strained and hostile. The wage settlement done three years back (2003) had continued for more than 77 man days, mainly due to the prevailing hostility and lack of trust between the unions and the management.
Program Design. The management, in order to try and address this issue of lack of trust and hostility, approached us and we proposed a five days Outbound Management Development program at MTDC Karla. The premise and design of the program being that there must be sufficient time and opportunity given to all stake holders to explore various facets of team dynamics and build trust amongst each other. There were 15 participants representing the management and union leaders and those who were key stakeholders in the negotiation process.
Activities. The major activities that were conducted and weaved into the program design were ‘reach camp’, ‘raft building and shelter making’, ‘rappelling’, ‘high rope’, ‘treasure hunt’, and other ground simulations all weaved together to create a complex simulation.
The Program. The first two days were devoted to giving the participants seemingly simple and innocuous situations that were bound to fail unless the group got together and began thinking for the overall good of the Company. The participants understood this basic principal, in no uncertain terms, that together they could conquer the world, while individually they were zero. During the subsequent three days the participants were pushed into even more difficult and seemingly impossible tasks, which together and due to mutual support were able to complete.
Effect of the Program. The immediate effect of the program was evident for all to see, in that the stakeholders were now close to each other, bonding well and were willing to consider/ respect the others viewpoint. Negotiating for a ‘win – win’ became the credo and from a situation of them against us they had veered around to a together we can surpass any hurdle attitude.
Wage Settlement Negotiations in Jun 2006. This program was conducted in April 2006 and the negotiations for wage settlement were conducted in June 2006. It is regarded as a record in the almost 40 years history of the company that a wage settlement of this nature acceptable to all parties was concluded in a record time of about two months. The negotiations were conducted in a very cordial and respectful manner with each concerned party respecting each others point of view and not resorting to dirty/ unethical/ disruptive tactics that had hitherto been the norm. The process of negotiation had now become a more respectable and accepted option, rather than a process implying fights and arguments.