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What Happened Next? Conflict Management. By Sarah Fletcher


With great power comes great responsibility (apparently), so what happens when your promotion causes a communication breakdown with your co-workers? Can you train staff to respect your new position, or is peacekeeping a priority? Find out What Happened Next when a TrainingZONE member sought tips from the Any Answers forum. By Sarah Fletcher

Promotion provokes communication crisis
I have been in a training role for six months now and I'm finding some communication difficulties with a couple of supervisors who I should be supporting.

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to keep changing the way I do things just to keep the peace.

I was previously an operator in one of their teams. I am aware that having been promoted to be at the same level may have created personal issues as one was previously demoted from department manager and has remained within the department.

I am keen to get any ideas or suggestions on how to best manage the situation.

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What happened next? Take my heart

I have been on two training courses to do with training and presentation skills; both supervisors attended and this gave them an insight into some of the processes training have to face in order to get things done.

The time spent with both in that environment was hugely beneficial, it gave me the chance to make the first move in resolving the issues we have and helped form better relationships.

My relationship with my co-workers has improved on a personal and professional level, more so with one supervisor. I think this is partly because they understand my work better, but I would be more inclined to say it was due to spending more time with them.

My good relationship at the conference has transferred into the workplace, although I have not seen one supervisor since as they have been away. It is still early days but there has been a definite improvement; I feel a lot more relaxed and focused on what I should be doing. I certainly hope it will last.

I think complete resolution is possible so I am really still working towards it. The improvement is clear with one supervisor due to understanding more about each other’s point of view and why we react the way we do.

I would consider a similar strategy in the future, with the provision that everyone is different. I would recommend getting to know who you have the issue with and deciding what is appropriate to suit the situation, both professionally and personally.

Which sources of information did you find the most useful?

There was quite a mixed selection of advice and I was able to draw different aspects from all given. I think the most useful was the reminder of being professional in all areas and about keeping in line with the department strategy.

What would you have done differently with hindsight?

I think I would have insisted we got together away from the department sooner and made it a more urgent priority.

The decision to attend the course were made at the beginning of the year, who attends what determined due to planning pressures. I don’t think it was intended as a team-building exercise but if it became that then that’s not a bad thing.

So far so good, I have discovered one of the supervisors has some deep issues regarding training due to bad experiences in the past within the company, this has allowed me to see more clearly the motivation behind some of the situations I've been faced with in the past.

The supervisor’s bad experience occurred during a session with a past trainer who tried and tried to get the supervisor to 'visualise' an experience. The supervisor, however, is not a visual learner at all and became very upset by the persistence of the trainer. The end result was the trainer involved was asked to leave.

Any other learning points?

Know your people, know their state and remain neutral and focused on your goals and strategy.

How to deal with this grievance - advice offered by members:
  • Rich Lucas advises you show you want to help and build yourself a strong reputation.
  • Bryan Edwards says until you understand the reasons why, you can't effectively adapt your behaviour to help the relationship.

Other articles in the What Happened Next series

Related Any Answers posts:

Anything to add? Please post your comments below.


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