Magazine article International Musician

Good Communication Helps Set Tone at the Negotiation Table

Magazine article International Musician

Good Communication Helps Set Tone at the Negotiation Table

Article excerpt

Communication is an essential part of any productive partnership. Whether an orchestra committee is getting ready for negotiations or just going through a contract cycle, it is essential that its communication with the local be consistent and productive. The best time for the orchestra committee and the local to establish good communication practices is during the non-negotiating years of the contract cycle, long before they are faced with the expiration date of the contract.

Good communication practices don't just happen; there are many ways for both the orchestra committee and the local to establish effective communication. The orchestra committee might want to involve a local officer in their orchestra meetings or in their musician/ management meetings. The local might consider inviting orchestra committee members to attend a board meeting or write an article about the orchestra for the local newsletter. E-mail and/or video conferencing can keep both the orchestra committee and the local up to date on issues and matters of concern. If the orchestra committee and the local regularly communicate, that communication will become more proactive and less reactive.

When the orchestra committee and local officers know each other as individuals who have ideas, opinions, strengths, and weaknesses, that knowledge can be drawn upon as the group prepares for negotiations. For instance, an orchestra committee member might be interested in financial documents or audition practices; a local officer might have an interest in analyzing wage charts or researching contract language. Having one or more individuals who are focused on a particular aspect of the contract gives the orchestra committee and the local access to their knowledge and expertise at a more comprehensive level, which in turn will be a great asset at negotiation time.

Good communication practices between the orchestra committee and the local foster a strong and confident foundation within the group, and the solidity of this foundation will also be reflected in the group's interactions with management. …

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