Perhaps the most challenging job of a manager is managing unionized employees.  This certificate program is directed at the unique challenges faced by managers when attempting to engage, inspire and motivate unionized employees.  We also explore challenges related to:

Change management in unionized workplaces

Understanding unions and their role in the workplace

Adopting and implementing the psychological health and safety standard

Dealing with difficult people (who happened to be unionized)

Performance management in a unionized environment

Understanding collective agreements and the collective bargaining process

Building solid relationships with local union leadership

Understanding and managing where there are mental health challenges

We offer a series of two day seminars that are designed to explore these and other issues related to good management practices.  The seminars use an Experiential Training methodology where we work from the real-life experiences and challenges of the seminar participants.


1 to 10 Seminar Participants:

$3,000 + HST per Seminar day (this includes the cost of preparation and discussions with the client).

11 to 20 Seminar Participants:

$4,500 + HST per Seminar day (this includes the cost of preparation and discussions with the client). We will use two facilitators.

Training Details

Participants should emerge from these seminars feeling empowered to take on the many challenges that managers face in their working lives.  We have arranged these seminars under the titles below:

aligning-your-management-style-with-your-unions-fundamental-purpose-workplace-fairness-instituteIn this introductory seminar we explore the relationship between management and management style with the goals of the organization. We will work together through exercises, group discussion and scenarios on the following topics.

What kind of employer do you want to be?

What are your overall goals for the organization’s success? What role does staff play in achieving these goals? How do you get the most out of your staff? What kind of role model do you want to play as a representative of the employer? Here we will use group discussion and a template to facilitate the scoping out of the organization’s “vision” for itself and where the staff fit in. We will discuss the goals of the organization and where unions and staff fit in achieving those goals. We will discuss general management philosophy.

The Challenge of Balancing the Interests of Staff, the Senior Leadership and other Stakeholders

What is the role of the staff in your organization? Are they expected to be leaders? Or experts? What is their role with respect to other stakeholders? What is the role of a union representative in your organization? We will use a group discussion format to identify the stakeholders in the organization and how best to balance their interests. Often managers find themselves in the middle of conflicts between staff and other stakeholders. Here we will discuss strategies for turning that conflict into consensus.

What is your Management Style? Making the Transition from Doing to Managing Work.

Organizations tend to operate under the practice of making their best performers managers. However, there is a difference between performing and managing. And especially newer managers struggle with this transition. Here we will introduce various management styles and approaches. We will ask participants to discuss the benefits and challenges of each style and how they might best work in different situations.

Assessing and Managing Performance of your Staff

Here we will discuss the challenges related to performance assessment and management in a unionized work environment. We will talk about the discomfort associated with performance assessment and management and strategize about how to use assessment and management to inspire staff performance and improve the experience of staff.

managing-difficult-issues-workplace-fairness-institute-2This seminar looks at the big picture in the operation of the organization and how you as a manager can operationalize the large strategic plans of the organization. We consider how you can be a model employer and explore how this can have a fundamentally positive impact on your staff’s work quality and quality of life. Each day will explore a major topic as listed below. We will use group discussion and scenarios as a pedagogical modal to enhance experiential learning.

Aligning your organization with the Psychological Health and Safety Standard Psychosocial Risk Factors

We have found that implementing the Psychological Health and Safety Standard is a good way to achieve balance and get the most out of staff. We will use the first part of the day to describe the Standard and how it operates. We will then spend the rest of the day on discussion of the psychosocial risk factors. We will introduce tools to help identify how these factors are presently managed in the organization and strategize on how to bring cohesion to the management of staff in the organization through this lense. We have developed a simple tool to help you get started along this road to being a leader in Canadian workplaces through the implementation of the Standard.

Managing Change in a Unionized Work Environment

We will introduce the ADKAR Model as a way of effectively managing change in the organization. Here we will begin by identifying the change needs of the participants. Then we will work together applying the model to strategize how best to accomplish change within the organization. This discussion will work well as an adjunct to the Psychological Health and Safety Standard.


In our discussions with union managers, a few significant difficult issues seem to constantly service: how to run a fair investigation and how to manage staff with medical challenges. We will devote a day to each of these issues.

How to Handle Investigations:

With the implementation of such legislation as Bill 168 and Bill 132 (and their equivalents) employers now have a positive obligation investigate every incident of harassment using a “competent” investigator. In this seminar we will do the following:

  • Understand how to conduct fair and reasonable investigations.
  • Determine when to investigate and when to use other ways of managing the conflict.
  • Determine when to use third-party professionals and when to investigate yourself.

Here we will introduce a simple investigation process and discuss investigation techniques that preserve the respect and dignity of your staff and elected people. We will discuss how to assess credibility and how to ensure that the investigation will withstand challenge should that be necessary. We will discuss how and when to involve the staff union representatives in the process.

Understanding and Managing Medical Issues

All employers struggle with managing medical issues among their staff. And with new laws there is increased need to do so in the most humane and yet efficient way possible. Here we will discuss challenges involving the following areas:

  • medical accommodations
  • back to work issues
  • mental health issues

Participants will discuss their challenges in these areas and together with each other and the expertise of the facilitators will craft solutions aimed at ensuring the dignity of the staff and the continued efficiency of the union.

Management Skills for Managers

While most of us as managers have finely honed negotiation skills, these skills tend not to help us much when dealing with conflict in our work. Managers have to face conflict between staff themselves, between staff and other stakeholders and between staff and themselves or other managers. In this seminar we will explore some rudimentary conflict management, mediation and group facilitation skills that will help managers maneuver through the many difficult conflicts they face.

Understanding yourself in conflict

The first step to being useful for others in conflict is to understand how you react to conflict. What is your dominant mode? Are you an avoider, a compromiser, a collaborator, an accommodator or an aggressor? What situational determinants apply to each style use for you. We will run you through the Thomas-Kilmann conflict mode instrument and use that as a launching pad for discussion on what works best when.

Managing Meetings in Ways that Facilitates Discussion and Avoids Unnecessary Conflict

We spend much of our working lives in meetings. This part of the seminar will discuss how to get the most of meetings: how to effectively deal with conflict in meetings as it arises; how to keep everyone focused on the goal of the meeting; how to ensure that deliverables are well understood, recorded, and reviewed.

Dealing with Conflict Between Staff

Here we will introduce a “managerial mediation” model to help you transform conflict between your staff into positive growth outcomes. Our 5 step model will help you put structure to the conflict and the solutions.

Dealing with Conflict Between Staff and other Stakeholders

We offer a modified version of the 5 step mediation model to account for power issues related to staff and other stakeholders. We also offer an approach to “relationship restoration” for those staff and elected folks who end up in conflict with each other.

One of the greatest challenges for managers is understanding how to help their staff get back on track after that difficult conflict or that divisive investigation. At the Workplace Fairness Institute we have developed a 5 Step Process that is designed help staff move toward functionality. We call this Workplace Restoration.

We will introduce the Workplace Restoration model to managers and use the challenges they have generated as a way of working though the model.

This two day course will take us through understanding conflict and how conflict arises and is intended to build upon Seminar #4 – Mediation and Conflict Management Skills for Managers. We will also explore workplace culture and how it operates and is sustained. At the end of the two days managers should have a good idea about how to manage a workplace restoration.

building-solid-relationships-with-unions-workplace-fairness-institute-2There is a long-standing saying in the union movement: “employers get the unions they deserve.” This might be true in some circumstances but is often an over simplification of the relationship. Managers who understand how unions operate and understand the legal, constitutional and practical role that unions leaders and representatives play in the workplace are often better equipped to use the union as an ally in conflict management rather than an adversary.

Our President, Blaine Donais LL.B., LL.M., C.MED., is one of the country’s leading experts on engaging unionized employees. Through this seminar we will explore how unions operate, what their challenges are, and how best to engage the union leadership at all levels in the success of your efforts as a manager. We will share many helpful templates and tools designed to turn the union relationship project into a successful enterprise in engaging unionized employees.

performing-a-workplace-health-and-fairness-assessment-in-your-departmentThe Workplace Fairness Institute is Canada’s leading expert on the topic of workplace health and fairness assessments. We offer a number of tools through this seminar that will help you understand the strength of your conflict management system, the culture of your workplace, the sources of conflict and will help you diagnose the source of many of the challenges that your department may be facing.

We will introduce you to simple and effective data gathering tools and evaluative processes to help you along the way. Each participant will use their subject workplace for the purposes of this seminar. We expect participants to emerge from the seminar with a plan of action for assessing and improving the health and fairness of their department.

workplace-fairness-institute-toronto-canada-2This two day seminar has been developed with the cooperation of the Respect Group as a way of helping managers deal with respect issues in the workplace.

Day 1: Keeping Respect Alive – The Role of Managers

What role must the line management team play to ensure that we Keep Respect Alive. These seminars focus all parts of the Keeping Respect Alive Spectrum from Proactive to Responsive to Keeping Respective Alive Spectrum.

On the responsive side managers will learn how to respond when they detect that there is a respect issue among the staff. This will include response to one-time events and to patterns of behaviour among their staff. We will work with your management team to help identify resources they have available in their workplace to help them manage the respect issues. And your management team will be able to workshop some of their greatest respect challenges and work together as a team to strategize on how to handle them.On the proactive side managers will learn how to model respectful behaviour and how to encourage the understanding of diversity and power dynamics among their staff. We will work with your management team to strategize how to set the right tone and strike the right balance in promoting respect in the workplace.

Day 2: Building the Respectful Workplace Charter

The best way to enhance respect in the workplace is to allow workplace participants to come to a consensus about how they are going to treat each other. We call this consensus a Respectful Workplace Charter. This is a Charter that will be developed by workplace participants and signed by them as their commitment to Respect in the Workplace. The Charter will answer a number of questions like:

  • What does Respect look like to us?
  • How do we support each other in encouraging respectful behaviour?
  • What do we do when we witness disrespectful behaviour?
  • How do we support someone whom we believe is a victim of disrespectful behaviour?
  • How do we have a supportive conversation with someone who we feel is being disrespectful?

There are numerous other questions that could be asked in this regard. The facilitators will work with the leadership to help tailor the questions to their specific workplace culture.

For the last hour of the day, we will create the charter on a document that will be reviewed and signed by each participant. This document will form a part of their commitment to a Respectful Workplace.

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