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Managers Want Conflict Resolution Training

Two Minute Trainings by Maria Simpson

A recent article in Forbes (10/1/16) includes some really dismaying statistics about management communication and training. Here are just three:

  • “a staggering number of mangers think they lack the training necessary to be effective in their positions.”
  • “ 96 percent of managers believe that managers need more training to deal with issues such as professional development conflict resolution, employee turnover . . .” and others. (Guess which one caught my eye.)
  • “87 percent of middle managers said they ‘wish they had received more management training when they first became a manager.’”

This article continues by commenting that the data support the observation that there is a “widespread lack of support for incoming managers across industries,” and helps to understand the “negative consequences of ineffectual management, such as high rates of employee turnover and low rates of engagement.”[email protected]

Wow. That should be enough for any organization to take a hard look at its management 101 training, if it even exists anymore.

There’s more. CPP did a study several years ago that reported American managers spend almost 3 hours/week/manager managing conflict. How much more money do American businesses want to lose because managers don’t have the skills they need for managing disagreements rather than avoiding them and letting them escalate until they become formal complaints which will cost so much more to address than any training program?

This isn’t a new issue. Just after I started writing this newsletter in 2003 Business Week reported on a survey of what employees wanted for the new year in their organizations. Addressing conflicts earlier was at the top of the list.

How many more articles have to be written about lack of “engagement” or ineffective managers or high turnover before we start paying attention to what we already know? Staff members don’t want to work with ineffective managers in high conflict situations that increase stress and decrease job satisfaction and productivity.

We can’t blame the managers. Most of them don’t receive any conflict resolution training at all before entering the workplace, and have probably had some very ineffective managers as models before being promoted to management, but lack of training doesn’t have to be the case, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

I’ve been a mediator for over 20 years, an executive coach, management consultant, and professor of conflict resolution, and I was a staff member in some very large and sometimes unpleasant organizations, yet I see some of the best training in the peer mediation programs in our schools where it takes effect early and is offered on a shoestring budget. Peer mediators talk about how they use their skills at home as well as in their schools, so this training can easily be transferred to other situations, and the skills can be universally applied with specific attention to business situations and disputes.

Every employee should have some conflict resolution training, and it just isn’t that hard to provide if we can do it in the elementary schools. 

The ABA has designated this week as Mediation Week, and the ACR has designated this Thursday as National Conflict Resolution Day. This is the perfect opportunity to consider adding conflict resolution to your organization’s training. It is the core of handling interpersonal and team disputes, managing across departments, negotiating sound agreements when conflict arises, and becoming a really effective manager, and ultimately, an effective leader.

Conflict resolution is a life skill, not just a management skill, and if we start training early, we can create more respectful and peaceful communities by using these skills. Why aren’t we?


Maria Simpson

Maria Simpson, Ph.D. is an executive coach, consultant, trainer and mediator who has worked extensively with the corporate, non-profit and conflict resolution communities to promote incorporating conflict resolution into organizational systems and training people in the skills and approaches of mediation. MORE >

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