A grievance is a question, not an indictment of fault, don’t assume it to be more than it is. If presented with a written grievance, signing the form merely acknowledges receipt, not fault. Make sure your staff is prepared to accept grievance forms.
Approach grievances with two minds.
- Is there a technical violation of the contract language? Work to identify the specific language alleged to be violated.
- Is there a problem to be resolved in which we have a mutual interest? Mutual interests may include providing optimal patient care, assuring adequate staffing, building and/or maintaining a positive work team.
One can deny the grievance on its merits and still address a problem.
Maintain control of grievance meeting.
- Show respect and expect respect.
- Don’t be abused—if the meeting gets out of control, end it and seek consultation.
Recognize the role of the worksite leader/steward as an advocate for the employee and the Union. Allow them to articulate their views, as long as they do so in a way that is professional and respectful.
Ask the grievant and/or worksite leader/steward to be specific as to the contract violation:
- ask what facts support their position as they know them,
- seek to find new facts or information that may be relevant,
- try to identify or surface their interests—what they believe to be most important, and what underlies their position.
- explore what remedies might resolve the situation,
- try to find those in which mutual interest can be served and
- encourage them to think of more than one solution.
Try to problem solve if a constructive dialogue permits, or simply listen and close the meeting once the arguments have been stated. There is no need to keep repeating the same points, nor any requirement to come to an agreement during the meeting. Nothing requires you to make a decision "on the spot".
Keep notes to summarize what was said at a grievance meeting, the positions, information and arguments offered by each side.
Use active listening skills and demonstrate respect:
- Restate your understanding of their position to reflect your
understanding, not necessarily your agreement. Be respectful by allowing them to state their argument without interruption. Expect the same in return.
- Give them your full attention. Listen to understand, acknowledge their position, and advise them that you will give consideration to them. Respect the process and the people, even if we disagree on their positions or hold different interests.
Be secure in your knowledge of the contract to balance that of the Union representatives.
Use the opportunity to consult with other managers or your HR resource., eg, University Human Resource representative., UIHC Staff Relations, etc. How you answer may set a precedent for other managers in other situations in the future.