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Keeping your eyes on the common ground

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  • If you don’t understand the business, will you make the right decisions?

  • Find the solution to the actual problem, not the one presented to you

  • Find the balance between the commercial imperative and the colleague experience – in the long term, they are probably the same thing


These were the summary points from an engaging and highly relevant presentation by @Kirsty Lawrence, HR Director at TUI Airlines, who joined us at our face to face meeting of the Employee Relations development programme yesterday. One of Kirsty’s key messages was that those working in employee relations must understand the business and those in operational leadership roles must understand ER - this will enable them to solve the right problems. In Kirsty's case, this means knowing there are multiple, wide ranging collective bargaining agreements, works councils and employee representative groups in the company, representing a mixed workforce of varying sizes and some in partner organisations. The commercial context was equally fascinating - a business with high capital investment, a maintenance regime relying on a constrained global supply chain, high fuel costs and a reliance on partners to meet customer demands.


So much of what Kirsty said goes to the heart of what @Joseph Perry and I aim to get across with our programme. We encourage our ER/IR colleagues to get a really good understanding of their business, see issues from multiple perspectives and work effectively across their organisations to find the right solution, finding common ground between those who often seems miles apart.


We also heard from @Tom Williams and @Marmare Barekati from our hosts, PWC, who shared their thoughts on forthcoming UK IR legislation, the potential impact on employee relations climates and how collective engagement is important even in new companies.


We also had time for a few action learning sets where we all practiced listening and asking questions to help others get to the root cause of problems and supporting resolution of real work challenges.


Thanks to our delegates and their sponsors, for their enthusiasm and investment in building skills and confidence in positive employee relations.

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