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Where is the Customer in a Labour Controversy?

During the springtime in Scandinavia,  every two or so years, there is much discussion about new agreements between the employers organizations and the employees organizations. The need for renegotiation is dependent upon how long ago the last agreement was made.  This can also mean that there is a risk of conflict at this time in some work places.

To reach the point where it is necessary to start a conflict is in my opinion a sign of weaknesses in the relationships within the organization. We need to ensure that we work together to create value for the customer. The old school of thought was that employers hired poorly educated people to do simple work, and the employers had the basic understanding that if they did not control the employees, they were not doing their job. All that had its basis in the beginning of  industrialization and the thoughts of Taylor, Mayo and others. In those days and looking back only 20-30 years ago, manufacturing was built for a mass-production with a large demand for products.

The world has changed and it will do so even more in the future. Today the market is more differentiated where the competition is harder. Most of the people who perform tasks within organization are more than well educated, often with 12-16 years of schooling.

The division into employers and employees is also that of an old school mindset. Those entering the labour market today and in  years to come, do not see themselves as a collective. They see themselves as people who are self-employed, where they take on an assignment, not an employment. They want to be a part of something, not just someone who is told to do something.

I recently heard a discussion on the radio about an upcoming strike, apparently those involved were sorry that “it would impact on a third party”. The “third party”, refers to the customer, and I understood what they meant. Each representative sees themselves as the first party and the others (employers or employees) as the second party. That is a totally introverted way of viewing the situation. The main party, the first party and the party that we should focus fully upon, is the customer. The customer is nothing more or less than that. Without the customer, there would be no employer or employees. We should never damage their trust. The customer cannot be treated as a tool in a conflict between the employer and the employee. It is like using the kids as a tool in a conflict between two parents.

The employer and employees must strive to enable the working environment to be geared  up for the 21st Century. That means getting together and understanding that by making the organization focus on the customers, and constructing a foundation of clearly expressed rules of game, there is no need to have conflicts. Conflicts are introverted and only serve to damage the most precious thing that we have – the customer.

To learn more about the subject of building a learning, harmonious and efficient organization, please sign up for my training courses or read my book.

How can you help your work place to be more focused on the customer? How can you also make sure that all levels of responsibility work together in a clear and expressed way?

Let’s make tomorrow better than yesterday!

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To you and your organizations excellence.


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