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Submitted by anyashina on



I am a new manager (30 days) in an environment, where the directs are all union protected. That means that they can pretty much do whatever they want, as the union will back them up. Case in point, I was told of a problematic direct (Call him "D") who did an action that was against company rule, was fired for it, and 2 months later, re-hired because the union said so. 

The company I work for is new (4 years), and doesn't seem to know how to deal with the union. The company also doesn’t have training set in place, nor any SOPs. The industry we work in is highly customer service oriented. I see that the directs are frustrated, burned out, and are running the company, instead of the management running the company. There is little way to motivate them, as the directs have been on the job for 4 years, where as the management changes almost monthly (I am the 5th manager in one year). 

"D" is aggressive, condescending and rude. When I let him know that I'd like to start spending some structured time with him, he said no, he doesn't need to, and why should he. He blatantly breaks company policy in front of me, testing to see what I would do. But the thing is - besides telling him that he is breaking company policy, I don’t see what else I can do. There is no enforcement of rules. If I would to document him, he would say - it’s just a piece of paper that means nothing, I am continuing to do things the way I would do them. 

What advice would you offer me, and what podcasts should I focus on? One-on-one will have to be done informally, as my superiors are against formal meetings. I have 20 directs, and about 4 of them are really rotten apples.

Thank you - A.

scm2423's picture

When our unionized employees say we we cannot do something because of the contract we ask the to show us where in the contract is says that.  So if "D" says he does not have to meet with you at your request ask him where it says that.  When he says that the documentation means nothing ask him where it says that; tell him you are doing in as a management duty.  Your job as a manager in this case is to address poor performance and people going against company policy.  You don't have to let them take your power away.  You will require your HR group to back you up though.  The more documentation you have the easier it will be for them.