How to get around seniority in the unionized environment
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Effective managers in the unionized environment know how to get around seniority. They understand that there are two important factors in awarding jobs and promotions:
Qualifications can include the ability of a specific person to work effectively with specific individuals.
A manager in the sector recently told me about how he was able to work with his union to overrule seniority in a very specific case. He had an employee who had a great way with a supported individual prone to violent outbursts. This manager tracked the number of incidents when his gifted employee was on shift vs. when others were on shift with this individual. The differences were stark. The union agreed in the end to let this person have a new full time position that was created over another person with higher seniority who did not have the same ability.
Qualifications can take many forms. They are the tool that great managers use to deal with issues where seniority is putting the wrong person in a job. It can be difficult to fight the seniority way of thinking but going against it, when it matters, is what great, results-oriented, managers do.
btw – great managers in the unionized environment know their CBA really well and they to use it to their advantage.
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