Fast food workers went on strike and protested outside MacDonald’s burger king and in other restaurants in the United States. Most cities witnessed major chaos as workers from these stores demanded wage increases from their employers. The striking workers demanded at least $16 per hour of their service demand that their employers did not consider (Royle & Towers, 2002). The two parties failed to reach an agreement as the employers cited that increased labor costs would mean an increase in the prices of their products, and this would not augur well with their customers. Lack of adequate and efficient communication between the corporations and the workers made it difficult to reach an argument. Consequently, there were major layoffs and increases costs associated with hiring and training of new staff to replace the lost workers.
After employees go on strike, it is important for the employer and employees to get in a round table and iron out the issues arising from the strike action. It is important for the two parties to look for consensus to make sure a speedy resolution to the emerging issues. Failure to amicably deal with this issue will eventually lead to massive losses both the strikers and the corporations. For instance, in the case of fast food worker’s strike, the two parties failed to reach an agreement and as a result, the corporations had to lay off the striking workers (McQuarrie, 2016). This was a great loss to the strikers since they lost their source of livelihood while the corporations also suffered immense losses in the form of hiring and training of new staff to replace the lost workers. Such a situation would be avoided if the two parties agreed on a negotiation model that would leave the two parties satisfied.
Nevertheless, this was not the case during the fast food workers’ strike. It was very difficult to engage in communication due to varied reasons. One of the main reasons why it was difficult for communication between the corporations and the striking workers is the difference in perception and viewpoint between the two parties. For instance, the workers were of the opinion that they worked too much for too little (Throop & Castellucci, 2011). On the other hand, the employers believed that what they paid the employees was sufficient, and any attempt to increase the salary would be bad for the business. The corporations were only concerned with their businesses while they neglected the welfare of the employees. As a result, the two parties maintained their positions and hence making it difficult for any communication between the two parties.
Another reason why it is hard to communicate during the strike is that the affected parties were too emotional. The protestors felt so aggrieved by their employers to an extent that they had become enemies. On the other hand, the employers were also too sensitive that the striking workers had affected their businesses adversely. When the two parties become too emotional, it becomes difficult to have a collective agreement on how to resolve a stalemate. In this case, the striking workers seem to be too emotional as they express their dissatisfaction to the kind of wages they receive (Royle & Towers, 2002). A mentally disturbed party may not be able to articulate their issues in a manner that welcomes dialogue. In this case, the two parties maintained their hard-line positions and hence making it difficult to communicate and resolve the issues that brought about this strike.
As long as we desire to have effective communication, it is important that business leaders should appreciate the existence of communication barriers that are unavoidable during conflicts. For instance during this strike, it is evident that there were various barriers that made it difficult in achieving effective communication that would help resolve the misunderstanding between the corporations and their striking workers. As business leaders, it is vital that you come up with a strategy that will enable fruitful discussions during times of conflicts (McQuarrie, 2016). To deal with communication barriers, a competent leader should start with developing an awareness of the barriers and then learn how to cope with them.
For instance, in this case, the corporate leaders ought to have acknowledged that there was a serious problem that had to be addressed immediately. By acknowledging the existence of the problem, then the corporations should have created an environment that would allow effective communication. One of the ways that they would use to deal with the communications barrier is taken time and listens to the grievances of the employees (Throop & Castellucci, 2011). Instead of taking a hard stance on the protestors, the corporations ought to have called a negotiation meeting where workers representatives would have an interaction session with their employers. Through such sessions, every side would make their thoughts well known and hence reaching an agreement. An interactive session would also ensure that all the involved parties are not emotional as they raise their issues as the discussions would be at a round table rather than in the streets. Such a discussion forum is important as it ensures that the parties selected for negotiation can easily control their emotions.
It is also important for the corporation leaders to be aware of the mental barriers that existed during the strike. The strikers feel mentally disturbed by the low wages they are getting from their employers and feel that it is the right time that they get an increment on their wages. It is, therefore, important for corporate leaders to be sensitive to this issue as they engage in any communication exercise (Throop & Castellucci, 2011). The mental barrier may lead to arrogance from both the sender of the information or the receiver. For example, in this case, the strikers are adamant that only a $16 per hour would be enough for them to live and work in the neighborhood. On the other hand, the corporations’ position is that $9 per hour is enough and even $20 per day can also sustain a person in these neighborhoods. This is a clear indication that each of the two parties is mentally set and hence the existence of mental barrier. To enable effective communication, it prudent that the corporation cultivates an open culture where the two parties will be ready to listen to others point of view and come to a conclusion (Schlosser, 2012). Failure to deal with mental barriers will lead to rigidity in the discussion. A rigid discussion framework will not have a reachable agreement as the different parties will remain with what they think is right for them and will not be willing to forego or sacrifice anything to get into a conclusion.
Change is inevitable in any given organization. Nevertheless, the way we deal with change varies across the different workforces. In most cases, any change within an organization will either lead to positive or negative emotions. The different people in a given organizational setting will respond to the same change within the organization in different ways. While some may feel frustrated or fed up with the new change, there are others who will feel excited and energized by new possibilities (Royle & Towers, 2002). Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of good leadership to ensure that there are mechanisms of strong emotions resulting from changes in an organization. All leaders of change have experienced anxiety, elation, frustration, satisfaction, anger, remorse and any number of other emotions. Though there is no distinct way of dealing with emotions, it is important for an organization to cultivate a culture that will enable different people to deal with different emotions resulting from changes in an organization. It is vital to ensure that members in an organization setting express their emotions in a constructive rather than destructive ways. For instance, the employees of these facts food corporations ought to have expressed their emotions in a constructive way rather than engaging in street protests. This would allow for negotiations where all the grievances would be discussed and resolved in a mature way.
As aforementioned, emotions are a great barrier to effective communication. The Fast Food workers strike ended up in layoffs as the employees, and the corporations failed to deal effectively with their emotions. Organization should always forge these emotions into emotional bonds to resolve the conflicts that may arise due organizational changes. For instance, in this case, the corporations ought to have used these emotions to their advantage and resolve their issues amicably. The only way through which emotions can be controlled is by engaging in continuous communication process where the issues on emotions and emotional control are discussed (Schlosser, 2012). The corporations should cultivate a communication culture whereby every change in the organization is communicated to the employees. Such communication strategy will help resolve emotions in a constructive way that encourages dialogue. It is always good for these corporations to ensure that there is a chance for the staff to air their grievances, frustrations, concerns and expectations. By so doing, the corporations would have avoided strikes and in case the strikes occurred, there was still room to forge these emotions to strengths and offer dialogue a chance. In a nutshell, communication remains the only way to resolve conflicts in any organization.
McQuarrie, F. (2016). Industrial Relations in Canada, 4th Edition. John Wiley & Sons.
Royle, T. & Towers, B. (2002). Labour relations in the global fast food industry. New York: Routledge.
Schlosser, E. (2012). Fast food nation. Boston: Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Throop, R. & Castellucci, M. (2011). Reaching your potential. Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
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