In any society or organization, there are different sets of people who come from various walks of life are of different genders, races, biases, opinions, culture, skills, abilities, etc. They are brought together in a free and open environment where they all interact.
All these people are expected to respectfully relate and work together without any form of discrimination or prejudice even with all the existing differences. To be able to achieve this, there is a need for each individual to be self-aware as well as sensitive to others in the way they behave and talk. For managers and leaders, this is even of greater importance as they need to not only harness but manage and lead the team despite the diversity. This is what sensitivity training can help accomplish.
What is Sensitivity Training?
Sensitivity training is an organizational development technique that is used to enhance the wellbeing of employees using counseling as the tool. It is a way in which an individual is made aware of their prejudices and insensitivity to other people. The program focuses on helping members of an organization develop and improve their awareness of dynamics in a group as well as their roles in such a group.
It addresses issues such as multicultural and gender insensitivity as well as sensitivity towards disabled persons. The aim of the training is to develop the personal growth of individuals. You can find out more about it here.
Importance of Sensitivity Training
No one comes into an organization with an intention to be disrespectful, harass, or hurt the feelings of other people but this has been seen to happen repeatedly. This can be due to several reasons, the most common of this being over-familiarity which leads an individual to forget that they are in a professional environment and should not just allow their feelings and emotions to get the better of them.
Undergoing a sensitivity training helps employees and especially managers to understand that to be sensitive, they need to be able to adapt to the various needs, characteristics, and concerns of the different people that work with them. It ensures that they are able to foster good interpersonal relationships with team members as well as encourage productive and respective relations between members of their group.
This will make employees aware of the feelings of their co-workers and the existing diversity between them. It will also promote good relations between co-workers and this will benefit everyone involved as they will all behave and relate in a proper and acceptable manner.
Below are some of the expected outcomes of a sensitivity training:
- A welcoming and comfortable working environment.
- Increased understanding and better communications amongst co-workers.
- Collaboration and teamwork.
- Greater productivity.
- Fewer conflicts among employees.
- Greater awareness of their audience and environment.
- Avoidance of prejudice, discrimination, and stereotypes.
Sensitivity training not only supports your business, facilitating understanding among your employees, but it also empowers individuals with the ability to deal with clients and customers in a respectable and courteous way.
It is important for managers and leaders to show exemplary behavior especially when it comes to respecting diversity in the workplace. If a leader behaves or speaks in an inappropriate manner, there is a likelihood that this will cascade down to the people they are leading. That is one main a sensitivity training will seek to improve upon. It will help leaders develop new interpersonal skills and lead by example.
How a Sensitivity Training Is Implemented
Normally, in an organization, there is a culture as well as ethics that guide how employees of such an organization behave. Sensitivity training should be a part of the broader culture of respect and anti-discrimination in the workplace. Trainers will seek to understand the culture of a business and then appropriately adapt their strategies to fit into this culture. The training is therefore tailored and adapted to fit individual businesses.
To conduct a sensitivity training, trainers will work with your staff to identify their behavior and communication patterns. They will seek to understand how a person’s actions and words are perceived as well as how it affect others. From experience, it is not just about what an individual does or what they say but the way it is presented. There are practical sessions where individuals build action plans on how they will improve on their awareness about others.
Sharing an opinion about other members of a group is a core part of the training which involves the exploration of personalities and how this affects their interaction with other staff members. This will bring to light information about an individual’s emotions, characteristics, concerns, etc.
By embracing the principles taught in the training and allowing it to become a part of the culture through their actions and speech, managers can reinforce sensitivity in day to day activities till it becomes an ingrained culture. Also, making available feedback mechanisms from employees and co-workers as well as creating avenues where grievances and breaches are expressed or addressed appropriately is crucial. You can find procedures involved in implementing this in a workplace here: http://www.whatishumanresource.com/sensitivity-training.
A very importance for managers and leaders to note is that sensitivity and awareness should start from the point of recruitment. Strategically hiring people who are open-minded and teaching them the culture of the organization makes it easier for them to follow these principles of respect and equality.
As we’ve seen in this article so far, sensitivity training for managers is important to teach them how to lead effectively when it comes to handling differences and diversity in their organization. It exposes them to the etiquettes and best practices of relating with other people no matter who they are or where they are from and permeate this all through the company ranks.
Considering all the benefits listed above, it is clear that every business or organization that is serious about creating a really harmonious work environment must actively find ways to create such an environment. It is now up to you and your organization to ensure that this training is immediately planned and executed to ensure that the entire organization begins to reap the many benefits offered by a well conducted sensitivity training as soon as possible.