Carl Peterson is a marketing assistant at a medium sized investment firm in the U.S. He has been in the position for the last 1 year, and he is primarily involved in supporting the marketing manager on sales and marketing projects. This role specifically entails aspects such as organising market research, analysing questionnaires, compiling marketing reports, conducting promotional activities, and engaging clients. In the recent performance review conducted just a few weeks ago, significant shortcomings emerged in Peterson’s performance. The review particularly revealed frequent mistakes, consistent inability to follow instructions, repeated failure to meet deadlines, as well as poor interpersonal and communication skills. Other aspects of poor performance that emerged include inattention to detail, poor teamwork skills, and frequent lateness to work. Peterson’s weaknesses have significantly disrupted the flow of work at the marketing department, with most of his colleagues increasingly showing reluctance to work with him. More importantly, the department fell short of its targets in the past review period, in large part due to Peterson’s poor performance. If the situation is not properly addressed, it may deteriorate or even trickle down to other departments given the critical role of the marketing function.
Peterson’s performance can be improved through coaching. Indeed, coaching is a valuable performance improvement tool (Poluka & Kaifi, 2015). Within the workplace setting, coaching essentially denotes the process of supporting employees to achieve their full potential (Clinton, 2010). A coach serves as a counsellor, a guide, a mentor, and an encourager. They continually provide honest and constructive feedback to people who report to them with the aim of developing their talent and skills as well as improving their performance. Leaders, at both the senior and middle level, play a particularly important role in coaching employees. A major challenge, however, is that most managers have little or no training on effective training (Clinton, 2010), which perhaps explain their inability to support their subordinates in the execution of tasks assigned to them.
Peterson’s boss at the marketing department has an important responsibility in coaching him if his performance is to be improved. How can the marketing manager coach Peterson to enhance his performance? The first important step a coach must do is to know and understand their people (Clinton, 2010). It is not rare for managers to maintain a distance between themselves and their subordinates. Some managers even one with their subordinates — they give instructions and provide feedback often via phone calls and emails. Accordingly, the manager may not have a deep grasp of their subordinates’ strengths and weaknesses, which may hinder their ability to coach them. An effective coach regularly interacts with their subordinates, engages them, and closely observes how they perform their tasks (Clinton, 2010). In the midst of their busy schedules, managers must find time to track employee performance and know what is going on around them. Frequent and close monitoring of employee performance not only improves interpersonal relations between the manager and their subordinate, but also places the manager in a better position to detect and correct performance shortcomings early enough.
Another vital aspect of coaching is providing the necessary support (Clinton, 2010). There is a possibility that Peterson’s poor performance is as a result of inadequate support from his boss. An effective coach ensures that their subordinates have the tools, information, equipment, empowerment, and authority necessary for carrying out their (Poluka & Kaifi, 2015). Indeed, equipping employees with what they need to succeed is perhaps the most important role of a coach. Offering support sends a message to employees that the manager is committed to their success. On the whole, Peterson’s boss must take it upon himself to coach Peterson.
Usefulness and Detriments of Labour Unions
Labour unions act as important intermediaries between employers and employees. Through collective bargaining, labour unions empower employees to demand for better working conditions. Instances of organisations neglecting or paying little attention to the welfare of their employees are not uncommon. Due to obsession with profits, organisations may sometimes be unfair to employees. With labour unions, however, such instances can be avoided, thereby enhancing the employer-employee relationship. Indeed, unionisation has been shown to have a significant impact on job satisfaction (Hipp, 2015). Labour unions give employees a powerful channel to voice their concerns, negotiate for more favourable wages and benefits, as well as call for equality and fairness. These aspects have immense potential to enhance job satisfaction, thereby reducing employee turnover. Employee turnover has historically been a major challenge for organisations, with dissatisfaction with work or the workplace being a major contributor. It is well-known that losing talent can be costly to an organisation. This underscores the usefulness of labour unions given their association with job satisfaction.
The steel industry is one of the most unionised industries in the U.S. Workers in the industry had historically grappled with poor working conditions. Up to the 1940s, the workers were subject to poor pay, inexcusable work schedules, lack of protective equipment, and poor working conditions in general. However, with the formation of the United Steelworkers of America in 1942, the working conditions of steel workers have improved significantly over the last six decades or so. Today, the union is one of the largest unions in the U.S. in terms of membership, with its members being some of the most well paid workers. The automotive industry is also a highly-unionised industry. The United Auto Workers (UAW) has managed to secure for its members benefits such as employer-paid insurance, cost of living allowances, as well as job and income security. Further, unionisation in the electrical industry has led to not only better wages, benefits, and rights, but also the establishment of national training standards. These few examples clearly accentuate the crucial role of labour unions.
Nonetheless, labour unions can be detrimental in some cases, especially from the perspective of management and supervision. First, addressing employee grievances in a union environment can be a daunting task for the management (Pohler & Luchak, 2015). Dissimilar to a non-union environment, where employees can easily articulate their concerns to the management, a union environment requires adherence to predefined procedures stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement. Typical human resource issues such as promotion, transfer, pay rise, and disciplinary action may not be readily undertaken without the intervention of the union. An ideal example is promotion. Generally, union agreements require that promotions be based on length of stay in the organisation as opposed to skills and qualifications. This may be disadvantageous to the employer as an individual with a shorter duration in the organisation may be more qualified than one with a longer duration. In addition, owing to the perceived superiority of the union to the management, some employees may be disobedient to their supervisors or managers. They may tend to believe that their bosses have no authority over them. This can be distressing for the management.
Unionisation may also pose a challenge to the management when an organisation lacks in-house expertise on labour law (Dhal, 2015). Today’s labour landscape is characterised by a complex string of rules and regulations that employers must adhere to in dealing with employees. This is further complicated by unions, which place their own demands on employers. These demands may result in , which an organisation may not have the expertise to handle on its own. To address this challenge, most organisations employ labour law or labour relations specialists. In spite of their disadvantages, unions play an important role in the employer-employee relationship.
Clinton, L. (2010). Coaching for better results: key practices of high performance leaders. Industrial and Commercial Training, 42(1), 32-40.
Dhal, M. (2015). HR practices & union management relationship. Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, 50(4), 652-665.
Hipp, L. (2015). What do unions do? A of the relationship between unionisation and job satisfaction. Social Forces, 94(1), 349-377.
Pohler, D., & Luchak, A. (2015). Are unions good or bad for organisations? The moderating role of management’s response. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 53(3), 423- 459.
Poluka, L., & Kaifi, B. (2015). Performance coaching within the telecommunications industry. The Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, 20(4), 49-65.