Management Training – Myth, Magic or Mayhem?

Training courses! The most recent had been termed “Management for Senior Officers” and had been a minor disaster – all psychology and how to be nice to junior officers. How to involve them, how to motivate them, how to relate to them. Rebus had returned to his station and tried it for one day, a day of involving, of motivating, of relating. At the end of the day, a Detective Constable had slapped a hand on Rebus’ back, smiling.

“Bloody hard work today, John. But I’ve enjoyed it.”

“Take your hand off my f….ng back.” Rebus had snarled. “And don’t call me John.”

The DC’s mouth fell open. “But you said … “ he began, but didn’t bother finishing. The brief holiday was over. Rebus had tried being a manager. Tried it and loathed it.

If you are like Ian Rankin’s Inspector John Rebus (“Tooth and Nail”, by Ian Rankin, St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 1996, New York) who finds learning to be a manager difficult and in fact loathes being a manager, or you love being a manager, or you merely languish in being a manager, but in any of these cases still find learning how to manage difficult, then there’s some good news! Our difficulty with learning how to be a manager is probably not to do with “management” per se, but the way the learning is presented to us and the different ways in which we all like to learn. (Mind you, managing – being responsible for the performance of others – is probably the second most challenging task one can undertake, if you’ll agree with me that “parenting” is probably the most challenging.)

If you’d like to make learning to be a manager a little easier, then read on.

Each of us learns in a different way and at a different pace, but researchers have found that in general terms, we have a preference for learning through seeing, learning through listening, or learning through moving, doing and touching. To make it easy for us, Peter Honey and Alan Mumford have identified four main learning style preferences –

• Activists, who like to be involved in new experiences. They are open minded and enthusiastic about new ideas but get bored with implementation. They enjoy doing things and tend to act first and consider the implications afterwards. They like working with others but tend to hog the limelight.

• Reflectors, who like to stand back and look at a situation from different perspectives. They like to collect data and think about it carefully before coming to any conclusions. They enjoy observing others and will listen to others’ views before offering their own.

• Theorists, who adapt and integrate observations into complex and logically sound theories. They think problems through in a step by step way. They tend to be perfectionists who like to fit things into a rational scheme. They tend to be detached and analytical rather than subjective or emotive in their thinking.

• Pragmatists, who are keen to try things out. They want concepts that can be applied to their job. They tend to be impatient with lengthy discussions and are practical and down to earth.

Which is your preferred style of learning? Read the descriptions over again, then make a mental note of the description that best suits the way you prefer to learn. You may find, that there are two styles that you can relate to – that’s ok, you can take a bit of both (in my own case for instance, I prefer the pragmatic approach, but at times I also need to reflect to learn best).

Following are some tips on how to learn best about being a manager, depending on your style.


• Talk with your colleagues about how they have managed difficult situations – invite them to lunch for a discussion!

• Get involved in project teams – particularly at the start of the project. Volunteer for the brainstorming or idea generation segments, but not for implementation issues or activities. It’s a good idea to take on the Chair’s role so that you can direct others!

• Visit other organisations to see how they do things (short visits only)

• Take part in business games • If someone gives you a management book to read or suggests you read a particular book, get someone else to précis it for you and tell you about the “good parts”. If it includes activities, go straight to these.

• Avoid conferences or training courses where you know there will be a lot of theory presentations. If you have to attend, make sure you ask a lot of questions to keep yourself from being bored. Try taking a lot of notes or drawing pictures during the “boring” presentation parts and think about how the issues being raised could be used back at work.


• Take the time to watch people as they work – particularly in groups and how they respond to one another.

• When you have just been through a difficult experience, take some time off (an hour or two) to think about it. Write down what went right, what went wrong and what you would do differently next time.

• Keep a log of the management activities you undertake over a one week period. Classify these activities under “Leading” (setting the direction, giving the big picture to your people) “Managing” (setting performance objectives for people, following up on performance issues, and implementing development initiatives for your team) and “Operating” (doing the administrative tasks such as budgeting, reporting). At the end of the week, spend a couple of hours reviewing your log and decide where you need to change your emphasis to improve your management.

• At least once a year, take a day or so off work and spend your time reflecting on what has gone and what you need to do over the coming 12 months to improve. Try to split your reflection time between 20% reflecting on the past and 80% focusing on what you are going to do in the coming 12 months.


• Undertake training courses and activities that are highly structured. You will need to make sure that the training is based on sound logic and reasoning and contains interesting concepts.

• Because you are less likely to attend courses of an “emotive” or “feeling” nature, go out of your way to do so, keeping in mind the above point so that it won’t be too painful for you!

• Seek out colleagues who have a similar learning style to yours. Arrange to meet with them regularly. Make sure that the meetings are well structured, have clear aims and are based around a particular management challenge, concept or theory. If there is an article or book on the topic, ensure that both of you have read it first.

• Look for management development articles (The Harvard Business Review is an excellent source). Send a copy of an article to colleagues who think similarly to yourself – ask them to read it and attach three or four questions that you think are relevant to your workplace. Ask for their feedback. If you really want to get into a management topic in depth, the publication “Organizational Dynamics” is very good.

• Seek out interesting projects where the issues are complex.

• Set yourself up as an “expert” in a particular field of your work and encourage others to ask for your advice. Be careful to see how the issue they raise relates to how you might also improve your own management style.


• Find another manager whom you respect and who is recognised as a good manager. Take a particular management challenge or issue to him/her and ask them how they would handle it.

• Look for training courses that have a particular relevance to your industry and job. Make sure they include plenty of feedback (such as 360 degree profiles, role plays and active coaching from the trainer).

• Look for “management techniques” – e.g. principles, concepts, techniques that will save you time.

• Look for management models. Ask some of your colleagues (such as the Theorists) to show you how the “best management concepts they know” work in practise.

• Avoid theory type training sessions, meetings and books. If you buy a management book, make sure it has very short chapters (one page is ideal!) with lots of “How to”. You will probably enjoy books such as The One Minute Manager.

• Look for training videos that show you “How to”, but do not dwell on theory.

• Get a trusted colleague to sit in on some of your management meetings and give you some feedback on their effectiveness. Make sure to ask him/her how they would run them if they were you.

Does management training have to be painful? My own belief is that the old saying of “no pain, no gain” should not apply to learning about how to be a better manager. Management training should be interesting, fun and exciting and it can only be that way for you if it is designed to suit your particular learning style.

I hope that some of the above tips on learning about management have been useful – mix and match to suit your own preferred style of learning. I would hate to think that we might all end up like John Rebus, loathing being a manager simply because we do not have the right opportunities to learn!

I’m always interested to hear your stories about managing, so if you have any, please drop me a line via or if you would like some more information about any of the above or perhaps some free tips or advice, you can contact me or get these at []

Good luck with learning to be a manager.

Copyright © 2006 The National Learning Institute

Water Conflict Management Concept – Alternative Dispute Solution And The Stream Of Benefits

The area of conflict management and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has brought new insights to negotiation and bargaining, adding much towards the theory and practice of assisted negotiations, facilitation, and mediation. It has additional practical tools to diagnose the causes of conflict and relate diagnosis to ADR methods.

The ADR field has codified a new language of interest-based bargaining. And much of these insights have arisen from environmental and natural resources instances. Much with the ADR literature is found among functions written by mediators or negotiators themselves about their own work, case research by outside observers, plus a growing body of theoretical function.

One distinction essential inADRis that in between distributive (also called zero-sum or win-lose) bargaining – negotiating over a single set amount, wherever a single party’s obtain is the other’s loss – and integrative (positive-sum or win-win) bargaining, wherever the solution would be to everyone’s gain. Reaching a collaborative arrangement may be the objective of integrative bargaining.

It depends on identifying values and pursuits that underlie positions; using these interests as building blocks for durable agreements; diagnosing the causes of conflict and designing processes suitable to these brings about; and focusing on procedural and psychological, as nicely as substantive satisfaction of events. Interest-based bargaining or negotiations is the preferred method to achieve this.

In conventional positional, or distributive, bargaining, parties open with higher positions while maintaining a low position in mind, and they negotiate to some space in between. Sometimes this is all that can be carried out. In contrast, interest-based or integrative bargaining involves events in a collaborative work to jointly meet every other’s requirements and fulfill their mutual interests.

Instead than moving from positions to counter positions toward a give up settlement, negotiators pursuing an interest-based bargaining approach attempt to identify the interests or needs of other parties prior to developing specific options. Frequently, outside assist is required to facilitate dialogue instead than to dictate options. It essentially is a procedure of social understanding.

Events actually educate each other within their pursuits and therefore become reeducated in their own pursuits in the procedure. Right after the interests are identified, the negotiators jointly search for a range of settlement choices that might fulfill all pursuits rather than argue for any single placement.

This encourages creativity in the parties, especially in technical water management negotiations. Engineers might use their technical knowledge to liberate creativity instead than simply applying it to defending options. The procedure can actually generate options that no a single individual might have thought of
prior to negotiations.

The events select a solution from these jointly generated choices. This approach to negotiation is frequently called integrative bargaining because of its emphasis on cooperation, meeting mutual needs, and the efforts through the parties to expand the bargaining options so that a wiser decision, with more advantages to all, could be accomplished.

Susskind and Cruikshank (1987) divide negotiations into 3 phases – prenegotiation, negotiation, and implementation – and offer concrete suggestions, such as “joint factfinding” and “inventing choices for mutual gain” in order to construct consensus in an unassisted process. In assisted negotiations (facilitation, mediation, and arbitration), they observe that regardless of whether the final result is distributive or integrative depends primarily on the individual style with the negotiator.

They also provide the interesting note that “negotiation researchers have established that cooperative negotiators are not necessarily a lot more prosperous than competitive negotiators in reaching satisfactory agreement.

” Lewicki and Litterer (1985) identify 5 designs of conflict management inside a “dual-concern model” along a ratio from the degree of concern for one’s own last result, compared utilizing the degree of be concerned from the other’s last result.

The 5 styles feasible are avoidance, compromise, and collaboration, as equal concern for both events, and competition and accommodation as totally selfish and selfless, respectively. In their traditional, Getting to Yes, Fisher and Ury (1981) provide guidelines to reach this ideal, positive-sum answer. In language that’s now typical to much of the ADR literature, including Lewicki and Litterer (1985), whose terminology for similar concepts is presented in parentheses), Fisher and Ury suggest the following concepts:

. Separate the people from the problem (determine the problem).
. Focus on interests, not positions (generate option solutions).
. Invent choices for mutual obtain (generate viable solutions).
. Insist on objective criteria (evaluate and select alternatives).

Even though a collaborative arrangement is often seen as superior to any other, Lewicki and Litter (1985) offer a series of common pitfalls that preclude this kind of an agreement. These factors that make integrative bargaining hard consist of the failure to perceive a situation as having integrative potential, the history of the relationship between the parties, and polarized thinking.

Ury (1991) offers specific advice on how to get past historically difficult and value-based conflicts – “getting past NO.” And Donahue and Johnston, Faure and Rubin, and Blatter and Ingram explain social variations,in methods to water disputes. Amy (1987) offers an altogether different approach to ADR, one of harsh criticism.

He suggests that, simply because most studies of mediation are carried out by mediators, there is relatively little criticism of the fundamental claims created through the area. He begins by reviewing the benefits claimed by mediation over legislature, bureaucracy, and the courts to resolve environmental conflicts and concludes that mediation only tends to be justified when there’s a relative balance of power in between the disputants and an impasse has been reached within the conflict such that neither side can move unilaterally toward what they perceive as their best interest.

Restricting himself to intranational disputes, he also contests the typical assertions that environmental mediation is less expensive, quicker, and a lot more satisfying than other approaches, particularly litigation. Amy (1987) strategies his critique from the perspective of power politics, and his most essential observations are of energy distributions throughout the procedure of mediation and of some resulting drawbacks.

He argues that the same energy relationships existing within the actual world are brought into the negotiating procedure. Within the classic environmental dispute of developer versus conservationist, for instance, the former will usually have the energy benefit. As such, the developer will only enter into negotiations if he or she somehowhas that energy blocked through, for example, a restraining buy.

The mediator, then, generally strategies a conflict looking to get a give up. The assumption is that the compromise will be found between the two initial positions. The issue may be rooted in basic differences in values or concepts, although – for example, regardless of whether development should even take location – which might represent alternatives that are not even on the table.

Furthermore, if a single party believes strongly a single way or the other, any give up may seem like capitulation. In other words, positions or interests could be compromised, but not principles. A mediator is usually not entrusted with finding the correct solution, only the best compromise – plus a mediator who becomes an advocate, either against disproportionate energy or in favor of any specific worldview, will not likely discover prepared employment.

Is Six Sigma A Short Term Concept?

When Six Sigma was introduced for the first time by Motorola as a technique for accomplishing quality improvement, it was viewed upon with skepticism which usually characterizes the introduction of new concepts. This tale however experienced a slight twist when the positive results began manifesting themselves and management critics were left with little choice but to acknowledge the efficacy of this concept.

From the time of its application during the early 1990s’ the main objective of Six Sigma has been to bring about quality improvement by eliminating defects or alternatively restrict their number to the point of achieving near perfection. While in manufacturing industries this goal is achieved by ensuring defect-free products as far as possible its consequence in the service industries is to minimize the occurrence of transactional errors.

As with every innovative program, the Six Sigma concept has spawned its share of supporters as well as critics both of who feel justified in holding on to their respective opinions. People rooting for Six Sigma opine that since this concept is an optimum blend of statistical management tools and modern techniques of management it is more effective as compared to other quality improvement programs. They also point the fact that this program has an edge over its counterparts as it focuses on continuous quality improvements and hence is able to achieve extraordinary results.

On the other hand, the main argument against this concept claims that it fails to take into account systemic errors, meaning although its tools are designed to overcome the flaws in the execution process they are unable to tackle an inherently defective process. Another contention against its viability is that it has come to be associated only with large organizations and small and medium sized industries are yet to embrace it without any hesitation. But this mind block is often deemed as being unjustified because Six Sigma is believed to be able to deliver the same results for all types of organizations irrespective of their size and the volume of manufactured by them.

It is apparent from this argument that as a concept, Six Sigma is broader in scope as compared to other quality management programs like TQM and Kaizen Events, and hence has the potential to outlast them in the long run. The basic difference is that while most of the other programs tend to reach a saturation point beyond which they cannot progress, Six Sigma has the ability to take the improvement process to the next level and therefore enjoys a much wider application.

Six Sigma is definitely not a short term concept and its resourcefulness has been recognized not only by the manufacturing industries but by service sectors as well. Whether it is a Six Sigma expert, a black belt, an analyst, a consultant or a leader, such specialists are one of the most sought after individuals in the job market not to mention the lucrative pay package which comes with such a post. The fact that Six Sigma trained professionals are in great demand for their ability to steer the organization in the right direction is proof enough of the growing acceptance and success of this management concept.