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Labour Relations Management Training

Labour relations management training is very important in organizations, especially those organizations that have a unionized workforce. This training should also include supervisors.

In an organization there are four groups of people who require industrial relations training: managers, supervisors, shop stewards, and employees.

However, any IR training should be based on an analysis of training needs with the goal of achieving specific objectives. These objectives could be achieved through the training course as a whole, or by the each module in the course.

Management Training

Most management training usually involves 'how to manage people' or 'how to motivate workers', but they seldom receive training in collective bargaining or taught about the role that unions can play in maintaining a stable working environment.

This lack of training is often evident in some negotiating sessions where inexperienced managers have to go up against well-trained and experienced union negotiators. This situation can have a significant impact on the outcome of a bargaining session.

To overcome this danger, managers should receive on-the-job negotiating skills training to a level where they can deal competently with experienced shop stewards or union negotiators.

Negotiating skills can best be acquired through practice together with experience. Therefore, an organization can conduct specific industrial relations training for managers covering negotiating skills or other important industrial relations areas.

In these training sessions managers can get to improve their negotiating skills through case studies and practicing with role playing exercises. These case-studies and role-playing exercises would be more effective when based on actual problems or situations faced within the organization.

In developing training for managers the emphasis should be towards on-the-job-training centred round coaching, case-studies/role playing, or task assignments. The reason for this is that extensive research carried out by Alastair Mant in his book The Experienced Manager shows that:

  • the majority of experienced managers do not benefit greatly from external management courses; and
  • managers benefit more from well designed and well conducted internal courses variously termed 'in-company', 'in plant' or 'in house', which are linked to the job and involve problem-orientated project work;

This standpoint is reinforced by Professor R. W. Revans in his book Developing Effective Managers, describing his concept 'Action Learning' which "is a method of helping managers to develop their talents by being exposed to real problems. They are required to analyse them, formulate recommendations and then, instead of being satisfied with a report, actually take action. It accords with the belief that managers learn best by doing rather than being taught." (A Handbook of Personnel Management Practice)

An important requirement for conducting industrial relations training is that the courses should continually be monitored to ensure that they are proceeding according to plan for achieving their specific objectives.

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