In Sweden, an employee consultant is retained by the trade unions, but it is required that management accepts alternative analyses and suggestions to change planned decisions. In that sense, an employee consultant is an advisor to both unions and companies.
Recent clients: Sobi (pharmaceutics), Callenberg Technology (marine engineering), Findus (food), Wayne Fueling Systems (petrol pumps), Enics (industrial electronics).
Clients and projects
Over the years, I have been engaged in a large number of industries and fields. See my list of clients and projects ...
Get in touch for questions - +46 (0)70 576 20 15 or send an email. I don't do any work for individual persons. I focus on various strategic issues.
One has to differentiate between two different situations
where unions have a legal or centrally negotiated right to retain an employee consultant.
And other situations where the unions could suggest the value of a consultant or even that unions and management retain the consultant. Read more
In a dialogue between unions and management, I can always provide an educational presentation, quite often constructive ideas and sometimes other perspectives.
The employee consultant as a crisis consultant
I have done many assignments in crisis situations, and there is rarely enough time to formulate realistic alternatives and possibly get these accepted. Generally, management does not expect the unions to contribute any insights that can more than marginally change planned decisions. Changing this image is a challenge. It is possible, but not easy.
The likelihood of good results increases the earlier I get involved in the change process.
With my own long entrepreneurial experience, I can also be a resource to support those parts of a business that - in the event of a closure - can be developed in another context. A corporate exit strategy can often be improved for the benefit of both employees and the company.
A story about the situation and its background
On some occasions, for example, when the closure of a unit or business could not be prevented, it has in many cases been valuable for the employees to have a story and an analysis of the reasons. Frequently, an operation will continue for a period after the "final negotiation", and the employees are often asked to transfer competence to other units. A story that explains the situation, and can be shared may contribute to a better closure. I have done several such assignments.
About trust, my report and the way forward
It is much harder to convince management to fully or partially rethink than writing a consulting report. It is essential for the result that both parties early in the process gain confidence in me and my way of working. I always present a preliminary version and then improve it in collaboration with my clients. I have very positive experiences with this model.
The employee consultant as a strategy consultant
Many union representatives think of issues that are genuine concerns in a rapidly changing world. How financially sustainable is the company's current business model, why is there so little investment in our business, how will the increasing digitalisation affect us, can we be affected by outsourcing or can it be interesting to investigate insourcing?
In these and many similar issues, the unions in the early stages probably have no contractual or statutory right to hire an employee consultant. Howevert there are no material obstacles for the unions to submit proposals for such projects or suggest that such projects may be undertaken by unions and management together as a joint effort.
Some challenges about collaboration and dialogue
Each organization is unique, but some issues tend to recur.
- It is not guaranteed that all trade unions have shared goals. We all come to the table with a history that affects how an employee consultancy assignment can be carried out. The internal coordination process may require some time.
- A fundamentally bad relationship between unions and companies is not a good prerequisite for success. In one assignment, the CEO said that "the less he had to do with the unions, the better." The unions, for their part, saw everything from the management with disbelief.
- You have to go a little deeper than the most common explanations for why a business has problems. Even the smartest people easily make false assumptions about reality and the future. The shared beliefs may need to be challenged.
Get less surprised. Systematise the signals
Some events come very unexpectedly - for example, the closure of the Findus factory in Bjuv - where I recently had an assignment as an employee consultant, but most "surprises" have a long history.
In a company's history, there are often strong or weak signals of upcoming problems. Some signals can be quite easy to observe while others require closer analysis. An example of the latter may be that few new investments have been made in a facility or a business in a long time.
If you want to be less surprised, which is essential, you have to systematise somehow what happens - and doesn't happen. One way is to create a simple (computer) model that lists and ranks different signals and events. Increasingly, you get a map, and based on this; you can then ask more questions and develop appropriate strategies.
"A good tool for displaying patterns is to choose, develop and follow 10 graphs"
In principle, the central factors for each business can be followed via 10 graphs. I call this Graph-economics and it is a surprisingly powerful tool. Anecdotal events are an excellent complement. A useful concept might be to talk about influencing factors - what are the trends and factors that most affect the business? Business intelligence is another name for these activities.
Business focus and Employment focus
It is natural for companies to have profitability and the development of their business as their most important goals. For a trade union organization, the number of employees and their security has a different intrinsic value. Read more about mental maps ...
The long-term success of a business depends on its collective competence for transformation. One part of this would be a good dialogue between unions and the organisation on strategic issues - a strategy dialogue. I think I can contribute to this dialogue about the future. Initiatives for my involvement may come from both unions and the company.
One often hears and read about the need to create new jobs. It is just as important to secure and develop existing jobs.
Follow up of assignments
It is more comfortable to learn from the mistakes of others, but it may be wise to be a little humble about one's own. In a world that is spinning more and more rapidly, it is difficult to choose a strategy, and it is interesting to follow up if the view of the situation that I and the unions and management respectively presented were reasonably correct.
See list of Clients and assignments ...