Pawley, T&D officer and chairperson of the Working Consulation Group at
Denso Manufacturing, explains how training was key to the effectiveness of
Key skills training for representatives on Works Consultative Councils
Designed by: Waterman’s Training, The Abbey Brewery, Market Cross,
Malmesbury, Wiltshire, SN16 9AS
Phone: 01666 825123
Fax: 01666 825233
The National Works Council Directive will have to be addressed by the
majority of UK organisations within the next few years. The creation of such
councils – or similar mechanisms for employee/employer communication – will
soon be law for organisations of more than 50 staff.
Creating a council and ensuring it has a positive effect on employee
relations, clearly requires attention to be paid to training.
The directive itself came into force on 23 March 2002. UK organisations with
more than 150 staff now have just over two years left to implement it, those
with more than 100 have a further year’s grace, and those with 50 or more must
comply by March 2008.
Denso Manufacturing UK is a leading global supplier of advanced technology,
systems and components, and serves many of the world’s major automotive manufacturers.
Our UK firm employs 1,500 staff. Representatives from all 13 sections of the
company, plus one from the team leader/supervisor group, sit on our Working
Consultation Group (WCG), which has complete coverage of the plant.
A chairperson, deputy and secretary were voted in, and two European
representatives elected to attend the Denso Corporation European Forums, held
once a year.
We were concerned that when staff have little or no experience of these
types of meetings, they can turn into a one-way communication from management,
as employees feel reticent about contributing.
Afterwards, attendees are expected to feed details of the discussions back
to colleagues and canvass comments. This can be challenging for staff unused to
such activities, and can easily lead to discontent among staff if done
ineffectively. We felt it was vital to develop training strategies to enable
all staff to function effectively.
Training the team
To better enable council members to fulfil their roles, we involved
Waterman’s developed a programme to improve the way the WCG work together,
and how each team member fulfils their role. Our objective was to ensure the
WCG had a very positive impact on employee relations. During the two-day
training programme, staff learned how to:
– Effectively elicit colleagues’ views
– Interpret collected data in an unbiased way and deliver their views
succinctly and impartially in a meeting
– Contribute positively and actively during discussion and debate
– Use appropriate influencing styles, avoiding manipulative behaviour
– Communicate information and decisions without increasing defensiveness
among group members
– Handle challenging conversations calmly and confidently
– Use visual aids to reinforce key messages
– Develop a charter for all representatives to follow
The programme proved very effective. The team’s development was greatly
accelerated by the training event, which gave fantastic practical help on how to
investigate and propose improvements, and also supported the group while they
created a charter to work towards.