Can the Union/Management Divide be Crossed?


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Here in Toronto, our public transit system — the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) is currently the focus of considerable negative attention by the public. The public is lashing out at the union as well as management — pointing fingers and making suggestions about how they should each do things differently.

General discontentment was smouldering because of a fare increase earlier this year, but their outrage escalated when a picture was posted on Twitter which showed a ticket agent sleeping in their ticket booth.

The public was rightly outraged.

The senior union official chastised the public for assuming the person was sleeping and not having medical difficulties (he was sleeping). His focus is on protecting his members — regardless of the issue.

Management is focused on having trains running on time, on budget. Noble objectives — but only part of delivering customer service.

No one seems to be focused on understanding or delivering good, consistent customer service.

The issues here are complex, but one fundamental truth is at work. People within the organization are not aligned with a focus on the customer.

The problem isn’t with either the unions or the management. This organization needs a complete change in culture and no one seems to be willing to work together and make the hard decisions to change the current culture.

They need to start by getting aligned around a common goal — defining and delivering an exceptional customer experience.

Once that happens, the various combative elements can begin to start focusing on the common goal instead of their individual goals.

My Perspective: Regardless of our business, we too often get caught up focusing on our department goals and forgetting the overall organizational goal which is serving customers.

By creating this common focus we break down our silos and start working together towards a common goal.

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