Partof the problem of repeated disputes could stem from a lack of stronglyarticulated people policies at the point of privatisation, or during itsimmediate aftermath. However, rather than enter into a historical journey,there is a need to concentrate on the here and now.BritishAirways (BA) still claims to be the world’s favourite airline. But thecontinual disputes, staff-related problems and ensuing chaos – not to mentionthe effect upon those directly caught up in it – will continue to have a debilitatingeffect on its business strategy, which is aligned to growth, profit improvementand cost reduction.Togive any modicum of success when restructuring an organisation, reducing costsand negotiating with trade unions, there must be a common purposeful approachby management, staff and unions.Aswith all organisations that are mandated to cut costs and boost performancewhile losing some 25 per cent plus of its workforce, there is an overridingneed to develop strong working relationships between management, staff, tradeunions and representative bodies, and the introduction of a common mindset todrive businesses forward.Thedifficulty for any organisation taking such draconian measures is that eachgroup of stakeholders takes a position and digs in:–Shareholders want cost-cutting and a return to profitability/dividends–Management must do whatever is necessary to get the results–Staff become demotivated with the heavy lossof jobs and the perceived lack of long-term security within the organisation.They become ultra defensive, with telltale signs such as high absenteeism andresignations–Trade unions take a defensive position on behalf of their members, with strongtraditional negotiating tactics.Insuch circumstances, there is a need to review all aspects of the businessstrategy and re-align the people strategies with the future needs of theorganisation on an all inclusive basis with every stakeholder group. Leadershipfrom the top must be strong and focused. BA’s chief executive Rod Eddington has an excellentpedigree, which must be replicated throughout – from the directors to thesupervisors. Staff must be openly communicated with, and their views –particularly on customer-focused operational matters – must be taken intoaccount.Tradeunions need to be invited to the table to consider plans, and the analysis ofrisks in terms of the longevity of the business and its members.Theprocess of change involving such major cutbacks is painful, but one borne outof a nationalised enterprise, which during 20 years of privatisation has seen aconstant stream of cost-cutting initiatives, is even more so.Gettingthe change process back on track is critical to BA’s success – particularlybearing in mind its corporate target of £300m savings by March 2006, and theimprovements to performance and productivity required. Alongsidethe overall change process is the need to effectively manage the day-to-dayoperations, and achieve or surpass customer expectations. This in itselfdemands the highest levels of management, support service expertise, andstakeholder co-operation. By Stephen Hall, director, Stephen Hall& Associates Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. BA must lead from the top to end the disputesOn 7 Sep 2004 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.