As a Works Council, you have a relationship with the Bestuurder (Director) of the organisation, the management board. It can be good or bad, but it is a relationship nevertheless. How do you benefit the most from this relationship?
a relationship? what do you mean?
As a Works Council or Director, there are two ways of thinking about each other. Either you think “we are forced to deal with each other” or “together we create the best possible organisation”. No matter how you look at it, there is a relationship.
You may dislike each other, but you will still have to talk to each other. Or, in other cases, you don’t dare to say anything other than “yes” because you are afraid that the other person will get angry.
If you feel that way, how should you deal with this? What can you do about it? And what kind of relationship do you want to develop between the Works Council and the Director?
the law is the minimum
Of course, everything starts with the Works Councils Act (WOR). This law details what you must and can do. It contains the rules for both the Works Council and the Director. It is the minimal basis of a relationship.
When the Works Council or the Director says things such as “according to article X, section Y, a letter should be sent stating that…” or “If you do not respond before date X, I will implement the decision according to the WOR”, that is not employee participation. This is imposing the rules.
You have to ask yourself whether, by imposing the rules, by ‘performing a kind of ritual dance together’, you achieve what you want. After all, the Works Council is there “to ensure the best performance of the organisation in all its objectives” (WOR, Article 2) (Dutch).
the relationship is the maximum
The relationship enables you, as a Director or Works Council, to achieve the best results for the organisation and its employees. There is an opportunity to discuss what would be the best objective to focus on.
In a relationship, you don’t always have to agree (like you didn’t always agree with your parents), but you can discuss it like adults. Think about and discuss what you want and can achieve.
each has their role and position
The Works Council is not a management board. This also means that a Works Council cannot make decisions as if it were a management board. That responsibility lies with the Director. The Director ultimately makes all decisions. The role of the Works Council is to assess, interact and discuss (Dutch), to ensure that the final decision the Director makes is the right one.
It’s the same the other way around: The Director cannot take over the role of the Works Council and dictate how the Works Council should assess certain opinions or how the Works Council should conduct itself (inside or outside the organisation). That responsibility lies with the Works Council.
We all know those situations when you wonder how the other person will respond to a question or statement. And that reaction (often) determines your conduct. If the other person reacts fiercely and with angry words, you soon tend to adjust your demands. Remember the first time you wanted to come home late as a teenager and your father or mother reacted very firmly and agitated to that request?
The relationship between the Works Council and the Director is a kind of game. Sometimes even a political game. As long as you continue to use the relationship as a safe basis to return to and are convinced of the integrity of the other party’s intentions, there will be room to disagree on the content strongly! But also, to have a drink together afterwards because you work so well together.
And yes, that game sometimes requires you to consider emotions and to use phrases like “that’s not how we interact with each other in this organisation”.
a parent-child relationship?
You can compare it to the relationship between parent and child, but that is not an ideal type of relationship between the Works Council and the Director. If one is acting as a parent, the other must respond as a child. So, if the parent is angry and bossy, the child can easily react with recalcitrant and unreasonable behaviour. Again, you can compare this to your relationship with your children or your relationship with your parents.
But if you can change (whether you are the child or the parent in this relationship) and react as an adult, the other person must also respond as an adult.
an adult relationship!
I can hear you think: “that’s easy to say… but how do I do that?” It is very straightforward: don’t get angry, but indicate that it is making you angry. Don’t be unreasonable, but state that you cannot be anything other than opposed in this case.
Exactly as you would in everyday life. At the supermarket checkout, the line will not get any shorter if you start pacing because you’re in a hurry. But if you ask nicely if they can open another cash register because you are in a hurry, someone might listen.
So, discuss what the other person’s behaviour is doing to you, rather than acting on that feeling right away. This allows you to engage in a conversation on an equal footing and enables you to achieve much more than is required because you are in a relationship together.
Do you want to change the relationship between the Director and the Works Council? I am happy to help you, for example through Works Council training.
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.