In my Training Tips Thursday post last week I looked at the different stages of group life and Tuckman’s theory. A lot of the training I have delivered has been on an ongoing basis with the same group and so it has been important for me to understand how groups work and at times this has meant dealing with conflict within those groups when the group is going through the storming process.

It is important to address the conflict when it arises, especially if it impacts on the training session and the level of engagement the learners are having. As the trainer I want all the learners to take as much away from the training as possible. By stopping the task at hand and spending a bit of time resolving the conflict or at least addressing it so we get to the point where the learners can focus again, I am much more likely to achieve this than I am by ignoring the underlying problem and ploughing on.

Here are the things I have done in the past to address conflict in a group:

  • Make the group aware of Tuckman’s theory so that they can understand why this might be happening and let them know it’s ok.
  • Offer the group members a chance to raise their concerns or issues that are contributing to the conflict.
  • I would act as a facilitator in this discussion ensuring everyone has a chance to speak and respond to comments made and where appropriate offer suggestions or alternative views.
  • Offer group members the chance to talk in smaller groups rather than as a whole group if you feel that is more appropriate. The conflict may not be affecting everyone.

On incredibly rare occasions it might be necessary to ask someone to leave the training. Whether that is a short or long term thing would have to be determined by the situation but I have had to do it. I did this once when I realised someone was under the influence of alcohol and was becoming increasingly difficult and on another occasion when someone became abusive to myself and my co-facilitator. These situations have to be carefully managed and you will probably need support from colleagues or managers to see this situation through to a satisfactory long term conclusion.

In that last example the person became abusive towards us because they felt they didn’t need to be on the training and that they knew it all already. In my Training Tips in 10 Facebook Live on Tuesday evening (on my Facebook page) I am going to look at how to get learners on board with your training before the course starts. If that is done well then situations like that are less likely to arise. I hope you can join me for that!