Many Works Councils want to be more proactive. They no longer want to wait for the Director’s suggestions and respond to them; they want to be taking the lead and engaging in the conversation with the Director. Between ‘wanting’ and actually ‘doing’, there is a world of difference. After training, the participants frequently come to the conclusion that ‘the Works Council should be more proactive’. Only to conclude during the next evaluation that this intention hasn’t materialized.
so: YOU have to get started!
Works Council members should not only express their intentions. They should do something about it: taking action and getting things done. One good way to realize this is to look outside the company’s boundaries, literally and figuratively speaking. That sounds easier said than done. How do you do this?
Some time ago, we developed a two-day training for this purpose, in cooperation with a Works Council in the automotive industry. The aim was to motivate all Works Council members to step outside their safety zone and explore the world. During this two-day training, two experts gave guest presentations.
experts as guest speakers
Wim Bens of Dinalog, the first speaker, looked at the logistical future and the role of the automotive industry. He gave significant insight into the world of logistics in the Netherlands, the rest of the world, and the role of ‘wheels’ in this industry. He asked the question: does the customer buy a brand, or do they buy the best and cheapest ‘wheels’ to transport their products? Finally, he talked about how ‘marketing a brand’ influences the other layers of the population. After all, customers are directly affected by this influence.
Talentmanager’s Bert Goos was the second speaker; he talked about the external developments in the HR policy. After his presentation, the training focussed on the actions that the Works Council should take to become more proactive. From ‘far away’ to ‘a little closer’ to ‘how do we implement this?’
Creating SWOTs using new information
After both interactive lectures, the Works Council members created a SWOT analysis based on their own knowledge, experiences and the new insights. The abbreviation SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (also called a strength-weakness analysis).
‘attack’, ‘defend’, ‘strengthen’, ‘withdraw’
Next, the Works Council combined the results of both SWOTs, drew conclusions and determined certain areas in which the company should ‘attack’, ‘defend’, ‘strengthen’ or perhaps even ‘withdraw’.
The newly acquired insights are initial explorations. At this stage, the suitable subjects for discussion with the management have yet to be identified.
The Works Council members concluded that they had gained more insight into the relationships with ‘the outside world’ and what the management is doing.
This knowledge and these backgrounds make it easier for the Works Council to communicate more substantively with the Director. There is a good chance that the Director will not ‘shock’ the Works Council with unknown subjects. The Works Council is better prepared because it has a better insight into external developments.
what happens after this?
It is essential for Works Council members to expand their knowledge and skills in this area. Furthermore, they must be always mindful of the developments in their own field of expertise.
A possible follow-up step is that the Works Council puts its own strategic vision on paper. Such a document is a great starting point for a meeting with the management. It can be even more straightforward: the Works Council can submit their SWOT to the board members and ask if they have similar ideas about the opportunities and threats.
what you shouldn’t do
As the Works Council, you should not make the mistake of trying to take over the role of the management. And don’t tell the Directors how to do their job. Everyone has their role and position within the organisation. The management takes the decisions, and the Works Council is their interlocutor (to make the best decisions).
The best decisions can only be taken if the Works Council is well informed. You need to understand the organisation’s strategy and know the way of the world. This process helps the Director to see the Works Council as a reliable interlocutor who understands what the management faces in the world. This optimizes the influence of the Works Council.
what about the Works Council from the example at the start of this article?
One of the results of this two-day training was that Works Council members decided to create two SWOTs: one for their own ‘customer’ (the company’s employees) and one for the Works Council itself. There are also plans to invite a former cabinet minister as a guest speaker in the autumn. In short, this Works Council has become proactive.
This is just one of many ways to make your Works Council proactive. We would love to discuss the best practices for your Works Council!
Note: Please note that we are a Dutch organisation and that all our information is originally composed in Dutch. For the benefit of our English-speaking customers we have translated some of our online information. We are still in the process of translating even more of our information. It could therefore be that you will come across Dutch pages on CT2.nl. Please contact us if you would like more information.