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Yash Gupta
Business School Dean

Yash Gupta

Yash Gupta is Professor and Dean of The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

Heavy-Handed Management

The true leader understands that all the elements within an organization must work in harmony. So it's not helpful when managers take such a confrontational route. Good leaders never extract things from their workers. Otherwise, they create acrimony that lasts for many, many years. You simply can't beat up on people in contract negotiations and then expect them to feel good about working for you after the dust has settled.

Companies have to enter negotiations with disclosure, transparency, and accountability as their guiding principles. They must be prepared to answer a number of key questions: What kinds of sacrifices is management willing to make? Why is it important for the workers to sacrifice? How would these cutbacks and givebacks improve the company's profitability? When can workers expect to see a reversal of their declining pay and benefits?

It's not enough for management to issue ultimatums, or to say, "Look how much we're bleeding. We're cutting to the bone, so the unions have to do the same." Management needs to think more in terms of sacrifice. Before you ask someone else to take a cut, you have to take one yourself. Sacrifice must happen across the board, or you'll get nowhere.

I've been observing the newspaper industry for decades, and this heavy-handed style of management never seems to change. They say they're fighting over a shrinking pie, but they would be smart to negotiate with the goal of a win-win agreement for both the company and the workers. Then both sides could start to work at finding ways to expand the pie.

By Yash Gupta

 |  May 6, 2009; 10:26 AM ET
Category:  Managing Crises Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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