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Has anyone encounter challenges delegating responsibilities to directs that are outside of the directs job description or in conflict with union rules? How could this problem be handled?

Mark's picture

I've done it, but it's a delicate thing, and you better have lots of support and lots of communication.  We're agnostic about them if they exist...but we know they have power.

In general, tightly written non-union job descriptions are NOT effective, but of course they do exist.  We always recommend that the last line be, "and any other reasonable activities that supports the business."  This allows a manager to delegate something he does that may not be purely in a narrow job description of the direct.

But you sure CAN do it, even without that.  Tell the direct what you want to do, and why.  If you think you need air cover, talk to your boss or HR, but I doubt you need to do so.  If the direct pushes back based on their job description, I wouldn't force it...but I'd certainly reconsider that person's ability to do anything further up the chain of command in the future, and I'd likely tell them so.  And find someone else willing to be professional about it.

And re-write the job descriptions before their next review.  (That will require HR's okay)

430jan's picture

If you are doing something even remotely questionable under the union contract call a meeting with your union boss(es) and seek their opinion before you seek a change. A union contract is subject to interpretation. Lots of things you think you can't do really can be done if you have a relationship with the power structure in the union. Who is the union rep that will hear their grievance? You will have a lot more traction if you have briefed these folks and they have had time to air any opinions. (I haven't met one yet that isn't high D high C, so they need their power and they need time to think). At least you will know whether they can be won over. 

Something else for free:

We have changed culture a LOT in my workplace. In the past a lot of job changes that would have benefited the worker were not done, citing union rules (i.e. job sharing, flexing work schedules, etc). We set about FIRST to fix those things. It took more than a year of asking "What kind of work environment can we give you that would make you want to work here". Then we fixed those things. Of course the union leaders were all for it, nobody grieves changes that benefit the employee.  We built a relationship of trust and (mostly) good will. If you take the time to get that right first then you will have a lot more flexibility if you come to them for changes that you want and you will have a much happier workforce.

Janet

430jan's picture

If you are doing something even remotely questionable under the union contract call a meeting with your union boss(es) and seek their opinion before you seek a change. A union contract is subject to interpretation. Lots of things you think you can't do really can be done if you have a relationship with the power structure in the union. Who is the union rep that will hear their grievance? You will have a lot more traction if you have briefed these folks and they have had time to air any opinions. (I haven't met one yet that isn't high D high C, so they need their power and they need time to think). At least you will know whether they can be won over. 

Something else for free:

We have changed culture a LOT in my workplace. In the past a lot of job changes that would have benefited the worker were not done, citing union rules (i.e. job sharing, flexing work schedules, etc). We set about FIRST to fix those things. It took more than a year of asking "What kind of work environment can we give you that would make you want to work here". Then we fixed those things. Of course the union leaders were all for it, nobody grieves changes that benefit the employee.  We built a relationship of trust and (mostly) good will. If you take the time to get that right first then you will have a lot more flexibility if you come to them for changes that you want and you will have a much happier workforce.

Janet

ronniemahogany's picture

Very interesting.  Thanks for the great replies.