Organizational development of trade unions An instrument for self diagnosis Elaborated on the basis of an experience in Latin America.

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1 Organizational development of trade unions An instrument for self diagnosis Elaborated on the basis of an experience in Latin America FNV Mondiaal 2007

2 INDICE INTRODUCTION I. Concepts 1. What is organizational development? 2. Dimensions of Organizational Development 3. The importance of the dimensions 4. The dimensions and their fields of observation II. Lessons learned from the application of the instrument. Annex: The instrument questionnaire 2

3 INTRODUCTION Trade Unions are challenged increasingly to maintain and improve their actions and the defence of labour rights. Globalization and opening up of national markets makes this challenge very urgent for trade union leaders. Therefore it is necessary to have a critical look at the actual practice of trade union organisations and the way these are managed and organised. Learning by reflection about the daily trade union practice can deliver us ideas and inputs to improve the results of trade union organizations. Experience shows us that those organizations that are willing to learn from practice are better able to respond to the changing demands of their environment. Because of this FNV Mondiaal wants to support those trade unions organizations (confederations and federation) that have shown interest to develop organizational development (OD). In Latin America through the consultants FNV Mondiaal have started this process of support one year ago. With four trade federations they initiated the exchange of ideas on OD and consecutively implemented them in some advisory and facilitation processes. Immediately these processes made clear that Organizational Development in a trade union context is very welcome but at the same time poses us with a whole series of questions: How to do OD in a trade union context? What effective advantage can we expect from such a process? How does improve this our organizational strength? What resources and competences do we have to develop for that reason?, How can we combine our daily agenda with urgent matters with attention for processes that have to be planned over a much longer term? Where do we start with OD? As a response FNV Mondiaal proceeded to develop an instrument for self analysis, in order to permit trade union organization (union, federation and national centres) interested in their OD to diagnose their initial organizational situation in order to project and construct actions that can lead to improvement on trade union organisational aspects. So it was with a lot of feedback and comment from the 4 trade unions that were willing to start this process, that we have now some kind of proposal for an instrument of Self diagnosis for Organizational Development. This instrument will be improved further by continuing the use of it in By sharing this unpolished guide for self diagnosis we hope: a larger number of related and interested institutions involved in trade union development can help to further develop it by examining it and commenting on it; also to promote that 3

4 a larger number of organisations related to trade union development reflect about their state of organizational development. This document is divided up into 4 parts: First part is about the concepts that have permitted its development; the second part is general recommendations for its use; the third part tells about some orientations for the implementation of the method; the last part shows the instrument for self diagnosis itself. I. Concepts 1. What is organizational development? Why do some trade unions or federations show more results then others and what can we learn from them? What are the organizational characteristics of those trade unions that function well internally and how can we obtain that? Why do some trade unions become more representative then others, how come they make a difference, how can we learn from these experiences? These questions and their answers explain the differences shown by trade union organizations in their capacities and skills to use their resources in such a way that they obtain the results they plan for. The possibility to learn form these successful organisations and then improve the performance of our own could be considered as the field of Organizational Development (OD). There are a lot of definitions of organizational development. We name a few: A response to change, an educational strategy that wants to make more effective and enrich the beliefs, attitudes, values and structures of the organizations so they can adapt more easily to the changes and challenges of their environment 1 ; A planned way of every organisation- backed up by the leadership- that wants to improve their effectiveness and services offered to members of society through improvements of their management processes en applying the knowledge that is gathered by the administration 2 ; An intermediate or long term plan that consists of strategies and tactics which permits an organisation to develop its level of maximum performance 3. In spite of their differences, these definitions have some elements in common that are very crucial and that we consider indispensable when trying to outline Organizational Development and that are confirmed by our own experience: OD is a change process that is oriented to respond to the challenges that come from the environment. 1 Warren Benis. Guía práctica de desarrollo organizacional Richard Beckhard. Desarrollo organizacional enfoque integral Blake y Mouton. Como Trabajar en equipo

5 OD must be a voluntary process, that is planned and evaluated. OD requires the support of the leadership and is a very participatory process. OD is part of the natural -always present- analytical process about our own practice and requires learning, by the individual that forms part of the organization, but also by the organization itself. OD requires intermediate and long term processes. OD requires improvement of the management capacities and competences of all members of the organization. From this we might formulate our own definition of OD: An intended and explicit modification of the dynamics of internal processes and their relation with the environment, that is carried out by a trade union organization, in search of the strengthening of its capacity to propose and to act in favour of the interests of workers and the progress of those communities they belong to. 2. Dimensions of Organizational Development According to our definition OD should focus on those changes trade union organizations want to introduce in their internal processes and in their ways of relating to the environment in which they act, so these processes maintain the necessary relation with their nature and specific objectives. So we consider OD of trade union organizations basically along two dimensions: Coherence The first dimension is internal and called coherence. It comprises the degree of the consistence and effectiveness of the processes within a trade union organization. It expresses the way resources are combined and managed, considering physical (money, infrastructure, equipment) as well as more non material resources (information, relations, knowledge, competences, visions, culture, image, methods), in function of its nature and goals. Correspondence The second dimension is expressed by the degree and quality of interaction of the trade union organisation with its environment which we call correspondence. What does the organisation do with the signals form society and how is it part of this society? 5

6 3. The importance of the dimensions The state of the correspondence and coherence dimensions says a lot about the possibilities of the organization to have access to necessary resources and the degree of reaching their goals. To identify and manage the strengths and weaknesses of organisations along these two dimensions is in fact the essence of OD. The diagram below shows the interrelation of the two dimensions correspondence and coherence Diagram of the dimensions of Trade Union Organizational Development Society Correspondence: Effectiveness of the incorporation of and influence on elements and agents of society Adquisition of resources Coherence: Effectiveness of the ways to combine and manage resources Results 4. The dimensions and their fields of observation To start of we propose a series of fields per dimension in which we have to make observations and analysis to be able rate the state of each dimension in order to get an overall image of the Organizational Development. The identification of these fields has been an iterative process in which we have used intensely the feedback we got from those trade union organizations that were involved in the first application of this instrument. This means the fields to be observed are based on the proper characteristics which are defined by the nature of the trade union organizations in Latin America and the goals they are 6

7 striving for. It is not the idea to interpret these fields as rigid options. You can always include or ignore fields if you think this is appropriate. Each field can be investigated through a series of variables, which are converted in to questions, which form a kind of checklist, to help investigate and rate the fields of the two dimensions (see also annex). Fields and their variables for the COHERENCE dimension Below we present the fields to be observed for the analysis of the COHERENCE dimension and a short explanation for why we consider them important. COHERENCE WHY 1. Democracy Democracy development is essential for the survival of a membership based organisation such as an trade union 2. Economic strength When an organization lacks economic strength it will have difficulties in developing and carrying out its initiatives 3. Access to information by members The accessibility to the trade unions information by members will influence the quality of the participation. 4. Competences of the human resources The effectiveness of the trade union organisation will be enhanced by staff and leaders with the right competences for the function they fulfil 5. State of planning and monitoring systems A sound planning and monitoring system will improve the management and organization of the trade union. 6. Equity in participation A sound application of equity for all groups, without discrimination of minorities is a basis for a sustainable trade union organization 7. Trade union initiative The capacity to respond and propose in function of issues of the society distinguishes a strong organization 8. Financial administration, accounting and treasury The capacity to have access to, manage, apply and control finances is of key importance for a trade union organization. For each of the 8 fields that have been identified it is possible to detail a series of variables that permit to examine and rate the state of each of them. Below a list: 1. Democracy a. Degree of participation in the decision making b. Degree of spreading of responsibilities c. Degree of participation in evaluation d. Degrees of access to functions that imply a high degree of responsibility 2. Economic Strength a. De state of the membership contribution b. Degree of sufficiency with own resources c. Degrees of access towards complementary external resources d. State of the cash reserve for support in case in labour conflicts 7

8 3. Access to information by members a. Degree of access to information on trade union actions b. Degree of availability of information from the particular labour sector that corresponds to the trade union c. Degree of availability of financial information, transparency d. Degree of access to information of the internal situation and daily occurrences 4. Competence of human resources a. Clarity of the job and function description of the leadership b. Clarity of the competences required for the fulfilment of certain positions within the trade union c. Degrees of correspondence between the required competences and the actual competences of the present leadership and staff d. Degree of schooling and training of the present leadership and staff 5. State of planning and monitoring systems a. Plans are used for preparing the operations of the trade union b. The feasibility of the plans c. Monitoring systems are used for the control an following of the plans d. The culture of the organisation permits to admit mistakes 6. Equity in participation a. Degree of incorporation into plans and resolutions of women s and minority groups interests b. Degree of representativeness of the leadership in ethnic terms c. Degree of participation of women in the leadership d. Degree of participation of youth in leadership 7. Trade union initiative a. Capacity to formulate trade union proposals b. Capacity to execute trade union proposals c. Capacity to guard the consolidation of trade union proposals d. Capacity to secure on the long run goals that have been achieved by the trade union 8. Financial administration, accounting and treasury a. Degree of existence and use of a financial plan b. Degree of execution according to budget c. Employment of mechanisms of control d. Employ met of external auditing Fields and their variables for the CORRESPONDENCE dimension In the following part we present the fields that in our view have to be observed in order get a picture o the CORRESPONDENCE dimension. CORRESPONDENCE Importance 1. Consistency of the The trade union action has to be based on an adequate context institutional proposal analysis. 2. Institutional There should be a level of correspondence between the positioning and institutional proposals and the capacity of the organization to organizational execute it. competences 3. Social recognition. Reflects the positive position of the trade union among the near by actors who could be supportive to its actions 8

9 4. Political autonomy The ideas of the trade union are genuinely conceived by those that are part of it and independent from other (political) entities within society 5. Transparency and trust. Share positive and negative inside information with actors around you and if necessary society in general, this enhances a positive image. 6. Representativeness This refers to the degree of adhesion of workers to the organization and the capacity to negotiate on behalf of the workers 7. Influence In order to defend the workers rights a trade union has to have the capacity to be of significance within society 8. Innovation The ever changing context of a trade union requires the capacity to find innovating ways to be effective with trade union action in order to assure results. For each field we have a couple of variables in order to be able to examine and rate the situation. Therefore a list again: 1. Consistency of the institutional proposal a. Use of diagnosis and analysis of context b. Degree of participation of allies or key actors of this context in the diagnosis c. Degree of use of proposals that go further then just the typical trade union themes d. To what extent are the chosen strategies rethought and/or recalibrated? 2. Institutional positioning and organizational competences a. Capacity to mobilize b. Degree of correspondence between economic capacity and proposals c. Degree of correspondence between image and proposals d. To what extend do mechanisms and strategies to call other actors for meetings work? 3. Social recognition. a. Expectations generated by the proposals b. Degree of participation of the trade union in initiatives of other civil society organisations c. Reaction of other actors form other sectors to a call for meetings by the trade union d. Interest of other actors raised by the initiatives of the trade union 4. Political autonomy a. Degree of correspondence between the actions and the values of the trade union b. Degree of independence of the trade union from the political parties c. Degree of consolidation of the trustworthy technical support d. Degree of development of alliances with mutual respect and parity 5. Transparency and trust. a. Degree of distribution of information about the objectives and trade union actions among other agents b. Employment of strategies for image management c. Degree of fulfilment of offers and agreements d. Coherence of conduct and attitude with trade union proposals 6. Representativeness a. What benefits do you get for your members? b. How is the voluntary participation of the members c. What percentage of the workers in the sector is affiliated to the union? 9

10 d. To what degree is the trade union considered by other actors as the representative organisation to deal with economic and social issues. 7. Influence a. Number of actions employed that affect the situation of the workers b. Degree of usage of communication channels towards key agents (that have decision power) c. Are there alliances of the trade union organization with actors and organizations that are significant? d. Is the trade union organization present in fora or other any other coordination instance, where labour related issues are discussed? 8. Innovation a. To what degree have innovations been introduced in the trade union structure? b. To what degree have there been innovations in the mechanisms to raise membership c. To what degree have there been innovations in the processes of trade union actions like campaigns, collective bargaining, denouncements, etc. d. To what degree have there been innovations in the establishment of strategic alliances and/or co-ordinations with other institutional actors? II. Lessons learned from the application of the instrument. When starting the application of the first version of this self diagnosis with our partners, we didn t make very much distinction between the characters of the organizations. The fields and variables were not so defined yet and more open. In practice it became clear that the self diagnosis worked best with unions, federations and confederations. The NGO s are not membership based and therefore a lot of the instrument doesn t apply. The global union federations ave at least two levels extra in their organizational structure, which makes an analysis a lot more complicated. It is also a lot more expensive to gather the relevant people to discuss the different fields and their variables. So it hasn t been worker out with that environment in mind. An important initial motivation to support the development of an instrument of this kind was the wish to obtain a clearer picture of the organizational properties of our partner organizations. After so many years of project support we were wondering if it helped our partners to become stronger as trade unions or as organizations working in favour of workers interests. Therefore we decided in Latin America that we wanted to be able to establish a baseline which would describe the actual state in which our partners were. From that we should be able to see where and how the development would be along the different variables. When developing the instrument with partners that were interested in joining us in this experience, we quickly discovered that this instrument is mostly appreciated for the orientation it gives in the systematic reflection on important aspects of trade union organization. In our short experience until now, especially leaders and managing staff that are committed towards the continuous 10

11 improvement and reforms of their trade union showed a great deal of interest for that analytical aspect of the tool. As an instrument to improve management, organization and strategic planning its value is not so much in the exact validation of the state of organizational development of a trade union. In a way because a great part of it is obtained on the basis of perceptions. However the richness is shown in the reflection that has produced the shared feeling and sometimes conviction that it is necessary to change. As a result of that decisions are made that contribute effectively to the strengthening of trade unions. Being an instrument of diagnosis, the situation that emerges when applying the instrument shows some kind of a photo. It represents the situation of that specific moment, which means it does not go into the why of that situation. Which means between the diagnosis and the decision of what change or adopt, there is an extra step. Analyse why the situation is like it has been observed. This means the information that is generated by the diagnosis has to be understood and taken as a first input for the elaboration of plans for organizational change and development. The application of this instrument for self diagnosis requires a open organization, which is expressed by the will and dedication of the leadership. It is necessary that the organisation is willing to recognise in a mature way the existence of weaknesses or improvement points. The organisation should also accept and do something with the differences in opinions that always exist within the organization. The decision to use the instrument for self diagnosis requires a genuine interest in organizational development within the trade union during and after the actual application of it. The exercise for this reason should not be taken light-heartedly and needs preparation. Participation of all layers of the organization is a condition in order to get a reliable information about the state of trade union organizational development. Care should be taken to avoid dominance in the information of the opinions by those that occupy the highest ranks. The instrument for self diagnosis on organizational development can be used independently by trade unions or it can be used with the help of an external consultant. When there is the use of an outside consultant it is best that he or she assumes the role facilitator, making sure that he or she does not influence the perceptions of the trade union members that participate. 11

12 In case of implementation without outside help, it is recommended that one member of the organization assumes explicitly the role of facilitator, who will prepare the process by reading the guide and all the questions that are tied to the instrument. The structure that is made up by the fields and their variables, as well as the questions that are tied up to it with the different categories for ratings, can be adjusted in function of the demands of the trade union to be diagnosed. Finally we want to emphasise that this instrument is still under construction and we want to thank the so far collaboration of CUT-Colombia, Cut- Brazil, CGTP in Peru and FAT in Mexico. Annex checklist 12

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