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Training workshops for Senior Teachers

Richard Thompson

on 20 August 2013

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Transcript of Training

Identifying challenges and developing the skills and strategies to overcome them
What problems and challenges do you face?
Can you rank these problems in terms of their importance to you?

One tick for people you can name

Two ticks for the people you have had a personal interaction with

Three ticks for people you know something about, resulting from a personal interaction with them (whether they have a partner, if they like teaching Juniors, if they have a hobby, if they have taught before ILA etc.)

Four ticks if you speak to this person at lest once a fortnight

Five ticks if you feel you know this person well (not necessarily friends)
Ensure you have three ticks for everyone within two weeks.

Aim to have four ticks for everyone.
Management by walking around
To get connected and stay connected, you need to walk around and talk to your colleagues, work alongside them, ask questions, and be there to help when needed. This practice has been called Management By Walking Around – MBWA for short.

William Hewlett and David Packard, founders of Hewlett Packard (HP), famously used this approach in their company. Tom Peters, in his wildly successful 1982 book "In Search of Excellence," included lessons learned from HP and other companies that used a similar style – and the term MBWA immediately became popular.
When your colleagues see you as a person and not just a boss, they'll be more likely to tell you what's going on. You'll get the chance to learn about issues before they become problems.

As your team gets to know you better, they'll trust you more. You'll be naturally inclined to share more information, and that will break down barriers to communication.

Business knowledge:
Getting out and learning what's happening on a daily basis can give you a better understanding of the functions and processes around you.

When you interact daily with your team, agreements you make with each other are much more likely to be completed. Everyone is more motivated to follow through, because you're seeing each other on a regular basis.

People often feel better about their jobs and their organization when they have opportunities to be heard. MBWA makes those opportunities available.

Many creative ideas come from casual exchanges. MBWA promotes casual discussions, so people will more likely feel free to come to you with their ideas.

Despite its obvious benefits, use of MBWA has been hit-and-miss. To be successful, it takes more than simply strolling through your office. MBWA isn't a "walk in the park": It's a determined and genuine effort to understand your colleagues, what they are doing, and what you can do to make their work more effective.
What can be achieved by MBWA:

Relax: People will sense your genuineness and casualness, and they'll respond accordingly. Stiff, formal conversation will probably lead to equally rigid responses.

Listen and observe more than you talk: Use active listening with your colleagues. When people feel you're hearing them, you'll probably seem more sincere. Read some pointers on active listening in session two.

Ask for feedback and ideas: Let everyone know that you want ideas to make things better. As a manager, people may think that your opinions and ideas are "right." So hold back from saying what you think – the goal is to see what others have to say.

Wander around equally: Don't always talk to the same people. You want to be approachable to everyone, regardless of job title or position.

Use the time for spontaneous recognition: If you see something good, compliment the person. This is a perfect way to show your gratitude.

Don't use this time to judge or critique: This can make people nervous when you're around. If you see something that concerns you, talk to the person later, in private.

Answer questions openly and honestly: If you don't know an answer, find out and then follow up. If you can't share something, say so. Telling half-truths can break down trust.

Communicate: Share company goals, philosophy, values, and vision. Your "walk-arounds" are opportunities to mutually share information that helps everyone understand and do their jobs better.

Chat: Effective organizations aren't all about work, work, work. Build relationships. Find out what they love to do or where they're going on vacation. Joke, laugh, and have fun. You may be surprised at how great it feels to relate on a personal level with the people in your office.
How to get into the habit of MBWA
What did you think about the MBWA article?

Did it make sense?

Was it interesting?

Do you think it applies to our context?
Is there anything that can be taken from the article and applied to what we do?
Do you think you do it enough?

How can you ensure you do it more effectively?
Session one
This can be defined as inherent difficulties with the work itself, external factors slowing/preventing the completion of tasks, or general institutional factors that make the work harder.
We need to start at the start. So before getting into specifics, discussing theories and trying to practice different skills, we have to complete a diagnostic exercise.

The results are private. They will not be discussed. It is designed to inform you of what you need to do next.

Management articles, journals, books, theories and strategies tend to assume a small team, or a team where everyone is in daily contact.

The TSC at HCM1 is unique in its size, demographic and turnover. There is virtually no other industry in the World where the turnover of staff is as high as ours. This means that we, the constants, will forever be engaged in the process of building relationships with new colleagues.
Session two
Session three
Session four
Session five
Session six
Active listening
Active listening is essential in our work at HCM1.

It is recognized as one of the most important
skills you can have, and has a major impact on both your effectiveness and on the quality of your relationships with others.

So, what is it?
Active listening is broadly defined as when you make a conscious effort to hear not only
the words that another person is saying but,
more importantly, try to understand the
whole message being sent.
Research suggests that we remember between 25% and 50% of what we hear.

In the workplace, this lack of "hearing" can lead to misunderstandings, mistakes, and conflict. It can hugely reduce your productivity as well as your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate.
Think of a time when you were trying to tell someone something, but you knew they weren't really listening.

What were you trying to communicate?

How did you feel when you were talking?

How did you know they weren't really listening?

How did you feel after the exchange?

Was the outcome what you wanted?

Was your relationship stronger or weaker
as a result of the exchange?
So, what things can you do to avoid doing

the same thing to someone else?
HCM1 Teachers
Schedule time in your Outlook calendar for MBWA
Ben Pour Dell
Carolyn Morton
Joe Talibudeen
Elizabeth Crawshaw
Erica Barthorpe
Joel Oxley
Katherine Ainsely
Nicola Hannah
Paul O Grady
Ross Webb
Ann Nguyen
James Merry
Matthew Gay
Peter Bloor
Sarah Carruthers
Tom Hill
Thuy Nguyen
Henry Nguyen
Hoang Thi Nhat Tam
Jon Fitton
Alan Coss
Amanda Bidwell
Andrew Dix
Philip James
Phuong Nguyen
Sean Trace
Robert Ackley
Zoe Wood
Katrina Newsome
1. Pay attention
Look at the speaker directly, make eye contact

"Listen" to the speakers body language

Avoid environmental factors (block out conversations people are having around you, block out noisy teachers, look away from your computer screen etc.)

Don't mentally prepare a rebuttal (you don't have to start speaking the second the other person has finished)
2. Show that you're listening
Use facial expressions (smiling, nodding occasionally etc.) to show that you are engaged

Lean forward, and make sure your body language is open and inviting (uncrossed arms).

Prompt the speaker to continue with utterances like "Yes", "uh huh" etc.
3. Provide feedback
Reflect on what has been said by paraphrasing

Ask questions to clarify certain points, when there is a lull in the conversation
4. Defer Judgment
Allow the speaker to finish each point before jumping in

Don't interrupt with counter arguments.
5. Respond appropriately
Be candid, open and honest with your response

Assert your opinions respectfully

Treat the other person in a way that you think he/she would want to be treated.
Give the speaker your undivided attention. Recognize that non-verbal communication also "speaks" loudly
Use your own body language to convey your attention
Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener your first role is to understand what is being said.
Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits your understanding of their message.
Active listening is a model for respect and understanding. The purpose of active listening is to gain information and perspective.
The benefits of active listening
Better understanding of the problems and challenges your colleagues
are facing

Less confusion, fewer misunderstandings, and less conflict which leads to....

Increased productivity (not having to do things twice because you misunderstood the first time)

Better relationships with your colleagues

Improved morale and cooperation because everybody feels that you have listened to them, and that you respect their opinions. They will feel more valued, and better connected to the organization as a whole.
1. The next time you have a more formal interaction with a colleague (co-planning with a teacher, participating in a meeting, talking to someone from another department), try to implement some of the techniques from the article.

2. Take a minute to reflect on one of these interactions after it has finished. How well did you apply the Active Listening techniques?

3. Observe one of your colleagues talking to a colleague.
How well do they listen (according to the points from the article)?
Is there anything they do ("good" or "bad") that you recognize in yourself?
What did you think of the article?
Are there any points that you strongly agree or disagree with?

Are there any points that are unclear, or seem contradictory?

Are there any environmental factors at ILA that make the advice easier/harder to implement?

How good do you think you are at active listening?
This session is in response to a request for advice on how to "deal with difficult people" and avoid conflict with them.

"Dealing with difficult people" is very complex. There is no quick fix or perfect solution.

One part of dealing with difficult people and avoiding conflict is listening to them, trying to empathize with their position, and making them feel like they are actually being listened to.
What goes wrong here?
Michael keeps reading his emails

Michael keeps looking at his "ally" the cameraman

Michael immediately dismisses Toby's idea

Michael criticizes Toby personally

Michael responds immediately to everything Toby says, indicating he hasn't listened (he was preparing his rebuttal). In the final exchange, Michael totally misses Toby's point (using what he thought Toby had meant as the basis for a personal attack on Toby's daughter).

There is no paraphrasing, concept checking, etc.

Michael uses his body language to try and shut the conversation down (turning away, leaning back, frowning, shaking his head, raising his eyebrows sceptically)

Michael employs other tactics to try and shut the conversation down (sighs, groans, tuts)

Toby on the otherhand, does almost everything correctly. He is calm, respectful, open, engaged, and "hears" everything Michael has to say, responding with intelligent comments.
Working with difficult people
This session follows on from the previous session focusing on "active listening". The aim of the session is to prompt you to analyze why certain people frustrate you, and then provide some practical advice as to how best to manage your working relationship with these people, so you (and they) can be happier and more productive.
The importance of overcoming or managing your frustration with a colleague
Unfortunately, there are always people at work that we don't like. And unfortunately, many of those people will continue to work with us for the foreseeable future. So, we have to find ways to work with them.

Negative relationships at work can really take their toll. It's likely that you'll find it stressful working with these people. Working with them regularly can be emotionally draining and frustrating. That isn't a healthy or sustainable situation.

"Getting rid" of them isn't usually an option, and passing them on to a colleague isn't always possible either - especially at the smaller ILA centres. So it is essential for you to be able to overcome (or at least manage) your dislike for a colleague.

If you can achieve this, you'll likely reduce your own stress and enjoy your work far more.
Strategies for working with someone you dislike
1. Analyze why

2. Try to connect

3. Manage your emotions
1. Analyze why

Think of a teacher, manager, or other colleague that you don't like. It should be someone you work with now.

Make a list of what do they do to frustrates you. Be specific.

Brainstorm reasons why they might behave that way.
This is a real example for me: Teacher X

1. Required a lot of support when they arrived. This was really time consuming for the team and myself. This is what we expect and wasn't a problem at all. But, crucially, the teacher never said thank you to me, or acknowledged the support they had received from the team.

2. Re-arranged/canceled observations at short-notice. This messed up my work schedule, which was planned around the observations.

3. Consistently late to class. The teacher was almost always late to class. They would dispute it when I raised the topic. Once they were late to the observation I was doing of their class, but didn't acknowledge it during the observation or the feedback! Another time, when I told them they were late to their class, they said their class started at 16:35 rather than 16:30. It didn't of course, but the fact they thought I could be fobbed off that easily annoyed me. I felt they were insinuating I was an idiot.

4. Had to be chased up about online comments, resources in their locker, poor CSS, poor punctuality, and poor working relationships with local staff.

5. Every interaction I had with this person was negative. It made me feel like I was bullying them, because there was always some new disciplinary issue to deal with. I knew I couldn't renew their contract, and every time I saw them, I had a feeling of dread about eventually having "that conversation". I also dreaded the arrival of the next problem.

6. They attempted to go on an International holiday without their passport (having given their passport to HR the day before their flight).
Why they might have done those things....
1. They were a new teacher, so it isn't any surprise they needed a lot of support. Everything is a blur when you arrive at ILA, so they were probably jet-lagged, anxious, out of their comfort zone, unsure of who I was or what my job entailed... and forgot to say thank you. They weren't English, so maybe it was a cultural thing. English people do tend to say "thank you" and "sorry" A LOT. Maybe they said thank you to other people, but forgot me. Maybe they didn't think I was very helpful. Maybe I wasn't very helpful.

2. Maybe they didn't understand the importance of the observation process at ILA. Most schools don't have them, or pay lip-service to them at best. We observe teachers in the first few weeks, before they've really got to grips with everything. Maybe they didn't realize that I was busy, and I'm sure they didn't know that I had arranged my working days around the observations. They did arrive half way through the working month, so they might not have been Inducted as thoroughly as the other new teachers. To be fair, when I said how inconvenient it had been, they were really apologetic - and after that the observations were fine.

3. I can't explain the general lateness. For the specific situations I noted, I understand they were worried about getting in trouble, so tried to hide it. Possibly, they just don't "get" time. Some people are like that. I shouldn't have taken the class time thing so personally. They were trying to get out of trouble. It wasn't a calculated insult. They probably panicked and said something daft. I've done that before.

4 & 5. These go together really. I think they probably had the same feeling of dread that I did. Probably worse, because I was in a more senior position, and it was usually to do with some aspect of their work performance. It would be miserable to have a manager who seemed to be "out to get you".

6. This was exceptionally stupid. In fairness, it was hilarious and it isn't as stupid as driving a motorbike after drinking 8 beers, which is something a large number of teachers have done at some point.
2. Try to connect
This bit is difficult. It takes patience, professionalism and emotional maturity.

You're acutely aware of the things you dislike about this person. But the chances are that they have a lot of positive characteristics too.

The only way to find out is to force yourself to talk to the person and try to find some common ground.

This is an obvious, but often revealing exercise. Analyzing specific situations, and the possible reasons behind an individual's actions can really help you to empathize with the person who frustrates you, and as a result, become less frustrated with them. It won't totally remove the frustration, but it can help to prevent the working relationship from breaking down entirely.
There are numerous different strategies, hints and tips for dealing with people you dislike. I've found these three steps to be useful and/or interesting. They are by no means an exhaustive list.
Homework assignment:

Talk to the person you brainstormed about previously. The objective of the conversation is to find something you agree about, share an interest in, or find an aspect of their character that is positive. It can be about work, but shouldn't be you reminding/telling them to do something. Maybe you both love Jumpstart classes, studied the same University subject etc.

Keep talking to them over the next month. Try to identify as many positives and areas of agreement as possible
By the end of the month you should have a slightly better understanding of the person, and the conversations you've had will have strengthened your working relationship as well as their opinion of you.
Manage your emotions
It is important to manage your feelings when you are dealing with people who frustrate you.

The first step is acknowledging to yourself that you don't like them, and then preparing for whatever contact you have with them.

When you're interacting with them, remember to employ active listening techniques, including making a special effort to reserve judgment on what they say or do.

Back to the earlier example...

When Teacher x left ILA I regarded it as a personal victory and genuinely felt as though a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

In hindsight, I realize that my handling of my feelings of frustration, and my handling of our working relationship in general, was a massive failure. Although my interactions with the teacher had always been professional, I missed the opportunity to build an effective working relationship with them (and develop professionally and personally myself).

Before skipping to the next slide, make a list of things I should I have done differently to build a better working relationship with Teacher X?
At the time, I didn't analyze or reflect on why the teacher may have behaved as they did, which meant that I couldn't empathize with them. I judged them pretty quickly as being "difficult", and that framed all of our subsequent interactions.

I didn't seek to find common ground. I should have done this right at the start, so we had a positive base to build from. After a while I didn't seek any common ground because I found dealing with them stressful. I'm sure they picked up on this, because they avoided me whenever possible too.

In reality, the teacher was probably a very nice person. They were popular, which implies they had a lot of positive attributes.


Go through the same process for the person you brainstormed about.

Then, put the three tips into practice over the next month and see what difference it makes to your working relationship.
Conflict Resolution
Resolving conflict rationally and effectively
Conflict or disagreement between branches, departments or individuals exists in every workplace. The fact that conflict exists is the sign of a healthy organization. If there was no conflict it would mean that nobody cared about what they do, or what happens at their work.

So, conflict occurs naturally and should neither be ignored, nor thought of as an exclusively negative thing. The focus of this session is to outline a few theories regarding conflict and provide some practical steps to help resolve conflicts.

Before we get into the theoretical aspects of analyzing conflict, we should start with something real.


List the conflicts you have had working at ILA.
Here are a few examples:

Building manager: I want to buy more resources to help teachers. They want to spend as little money as possible.

Teacher X: I want them to stop taking holiday. They are intent on taking more than 20 days holiday.

Team member: I want them to volunteer to help with some work because I'm busy. They want to finish their own work and get home as soon as they can.

FO: They want to maximize sales, at the cost of academic quality. My job is to ensure academic quality.

TA: ...
Conflict styles

In the 1970s Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann identified five main styles of dealing with conflict that are distinguished by their degrees of cooperation and assertiveness.

1. Competitive

2. Collaborative

3. Compromising

4. Accommodating

5. Avoiding
"People who tend towards a competitive style take a firm stand, and know what they want. They usually operate from a position of power, drawn from things like rank, expertise, or persuasive ability. This style can be useful when there is an emergency and a decision needs to be made fast; or when the decision is unpopular; or when defending against someone who is trying to exploit the situation selfishly. However, it can leave people feeling unsatisfied, undervalued, and resentful when used in less urgent/extreme situations."
"People tending towards a collaborative style try to meet the needs of all the people involved. These people can be highly assertive but unlike the competitor, they cooperate effectively and acknowledge that everyone is important. This style is useful when you need to bring together a variety of viewpoints to get the best solution; when there have been previous conflicts in the group; or when the situation at hand is too important for a one-sided decision."
"People who prefer a compromising style try to find a solution that will at least partly satisfy everyone. Everyone is expected to give up something, and the "compromiser" also expects to relinquish something.
Compromise is useful when the cost of conflict is higher than the cost of losing ground; or when equal strength opponents are at a standstill and when there is a deadline looming."
"This style indicates a willingness to meet the needs of others at the expense of the person's own needs. The "accommodator" often knows when to give in to others, but can be persuaded to surrender a position when it is not warranted. This person is not assertive but is highly cooperative. Accomodation is appropriate when issues matter more to the other party, when "peace" is more valuable than "winning", or when you want to be in a position to collect on this "favor" you gave."
"People tending towards this style seek to evade the conflict entirely. This style is typified by delegating controversial decisions, accepting default decisions, and not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings. It can be appropriate when victory is impossible, when the controversy is trivial, or when someone else is in a better position to solve the problem. However in many situations this is a weak and ineffective approach to take."
"Once you are aware the different styles, you can use them to think about the most appropriate approach (or mixture of approaches) for the situation you're in. Ideally you can adopt an approach that meets the situation, resolves the problem, respects people's legitimate interests, and mends damaged working relationships."

Do you recognize any of the styles from your experience of working at ILA?

What style do you think you instinctively lean towards?

What style do you see most often in the managers around you (Vietnamese and expatriate)?

Can you think of a specific situation where a manager has clearly used one of the styles?
"The second theory is commonly referred to as the "Interest-Based Relational (IBR) Approach". This type of conflict resolution respects individual differences while helping people avoid becoming too entrenched in a fixed position.

In resolving conflict using this approach, you follow these rules:

1. Make sure that good relationships are the first priority: As far as possible, make sure that you treat the other calmly and that you try to build mutual respect. Do your best to be courteous to one-another and remain constructive under pressure.
2. Keep people and problems separate: Recognize that in many cases the other person is not just "being difficult" – real and valid differences can lie behind conflicting positions. By separating the problem from the person, real issues can be debated without damaging working relationships.
3. Pay attention to the interests that are being presented: By listening carefully you'll most-likely understand why the person is adopting his or her position.
4.Listen first; talk second: To solve a problem effectively you have to understand where the other person is coming from before defending your own position.
5. Set out the "Facts": Agree and establish the objective, observable elements that will have an impact on the decision.
6. Explore options together: Be open to the idea that a third position may exist, and that you can get to this idea jointly.

By following these rules, you can often keep contentious discussions positive and constructive. This helps to prevent the antagonism and dislike which so-often causes conflict to spin out of control."
Using the Tool: A Conflict Resolution Process

Based on the previous two approaches, a starting point for dealing with conflict is to identify the overriding conflict style employed by yourself, your team or your organization.

Over time, people's conflict management styles tend to mesh, and a "right" way to solve conflict emerges. Look at the circumstances, and think about the style that may be appropriate.

Then use the process below to resolve the conflict:

Step One: Set the Scene

Step Two: Gather Information

Step Three: Agree the Problem

Step Four: Brainstorm Possible Solutions

Step Five: Negotiate a Solution

By this stage, the conflict may be resolved: Both sides may better understand the position of the other, and a mutually satisfactory solution may be clear to all. However you may also have uncovered real differences between your positions. Regardless, you will have a better understanding of your actual respective positions rather than perceived differences, and you'll have a better idea of what to do next.

There are three guiding principles here: Be Calm, Be Patient, Have Respect.

The "Interest-based relational approach" to conflict resolution
If appropriate to the situation, agree the rules of the IBR Approach (or at least consider using the approach yourself.) Make sure that people understand that the conflict may be a mutual problem, which may be best resolved through discussion and negotiation rather than through raw aggression.

If you are involved in the conflict, emphasize the fact that you are presenting your perception of the problem. Use active listening skills to ensure you hear and understand other's positions and perceptions.

And make sure that when you talk, you're using an adult, assertive approach rather than a submissive or aggressive style.
Here you are trying to get to the underlying interests, needs, and concerns. Ask for the other person's viewpoint and confirm that you respect his or her opinion and need his or her cooperation to solve the problem.

Try to understand his or her motivations and goals, and see how your actions may be affecting these.

Also, try to understand the conflict in objective terms: Is it affecting work performance? damaging the delivery to the teachers, students, or other departments? disrupting team work? hampering decision-making? or so on. Be sure to focus on work issues and leave personalities out of the discussion.

Listen with empathy and see the conflict from the other person's point of view.
Identify issues clearly and concisely.
Use "I" statements.
Remain flexible.
Clarify feelings. This is especially important in a bi-lingual, multicultural environment like ILA. A lot of subtleties get lost in translation, possibly more often between expatriate staff.
This sounds like an obvious step, but often different underlying needs, interests and goals can cause people to perceive problems very differently. You'll need to agree the problems that you are trying to solve before you'll find a mutually acceptable solution.

Sometimes different people will see different but interlocking problems – if you can't reach a common perception of the problem, then at the very least, you need to understand what the other person sees as the problem.

If everyone is going to feel satisfied with the resolution, it will help if everyone has had fair input in generating solutions. Brainstorm possible solutions, and be open to all ideas, including ones you never considered before.
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