During my networking discussion with co- IR professionals, one common discussion point always will be “What is the most challenging task in IR “. Interestingly, majority of times the common reply is “Building mutual trust “. Everyone say that it is the toughest and never ending task. I also wonder if this is true how do really convert “Im-possible task” as “Ppossible”!!! Achieving a “Perfect “condition, no doubt, is herculean task especially under Indian Labor Relations paradigm. It becomes furthermore challenging as,”trust level” is dynamic which fluctuates based on situation /person/ policy/ external environment etc. It gets further complicated when Organization’s IR philosophy is not aligned fully to local labor conditions.
Through my experience, both in current Organization and previous Organizations, I realized that there is no need for so called “drawing room strategies” to improve Mutual trust. Many a times even simple activities promoting strong, transparent communication in the organization become very handy to develop “Mutual Trust”.
Simple techniques like “ Periodical Round Table meetings”, “Open talk”, ” one to one /Group Talk by Supervisor/ Managers”, “Lunch On meetings” or even “Daily workplace meetings” etc. Do help to reach out to employees and touch their heart. We extended such practices even to temporaries and trainees as normally problems are common. Many of bugging issues are solved successfully through these forums which otherwise may cause “Sparks” in daily management on shop floor.
I find that these practices are very effective to develop Supervisors/ Managers in Labor Relation which is nothing but “On the Job development”. But, during open communication, enough care to be taken to ensure that Organization has enough maturity to handle it. I have seen that when issues are raised but not responded systematically, they cause more damages and it is better not try them without enough preparation or internal consensus. This is very important considering today’s millennial generation employees who are very open, direct in communication without hesitation.
Normally hierarchy oriented Supervisors/ Managers find difficult to accept it. Hence more qualitative communication is must with receptivity. We also encourage supervisors to exhibit their commitment / care by way of visualization of their action plans to redress the grievance/ concerns received. This in turn helps to win the confidence of subordinates. Further, these communication activities are also supported by higher level activities like periodical communication by Top Management, systematic induction to company philosophy etc.
Communication to build trust also get reinforced through informal communication especially through employee engagement activities like Annual Sports activities, joint management councils, Family Day, periodical visit of family to the plant etc. Further frank communication also happen across the table between Management and union through regular meetings/ union council meetings/ special training etc. Union is also encouraged to participate in some of the Company meetings like monthly safety meetings. Whole philosophy is promotion of “Inclusive style Management to promote “sense of involvement” to promote trust.
The above are only few examples. Organization has philosophy of “Respect for People” as it’s DNA which supports the communication strategies and through robust HR systems there is a continuous coaching and developing people, be it skill promotion or leadership development which helps to promote Trust .
Nevertheless, Mutual Trust building will continue to be a long but challenge and interesting journey!
Author– SANTHOSH RAO, has 21 years of rich hands on experience in HR profession as a Generalist in Human Resource Development, Employee Relations, Employee Services and General Administration areas. He is currently General Manager –HR & Admin at Toyota Industries Engine India Private Limited (Part of Toyota Industries Corporation- TICO)