Recently, I had the opportunity and privilege to partner with Tero International as part of my Master's Degree in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution ("NCR"). As part of my final course being taken via Creighton University's Werner Institute http://law.creighton.edu/werner-institute I was tasked with collaborating with an organization as part of a practicum project designed to explore an aspect of conflict engagement. I stumbled across Tero when I noticed that a colleague of mine had a Tero certificate posted on her cubicle wall. Intrigued, I contacted Tero, and discussed the possibility of doing a project that would benefit Tero, the organizations it collaborates with, as well as me and my graduate studies.
My overall objective was to understand how people in a variety of contexts learn and utilize negotiation, conflict engagement, and related skills. These are many of the skills taught by Tero and practiced by those who participate in the trainings offered, including communication skills like active listening and questions. I wanted to see how people approached these topics, how they applied them in their lives, and what impacts these skills had. My first step was to take part in Tero training myself, so in early May, 2015, I took the two-day Influence: How To Achieve Winning Outcomes course at Tero International Learning Center. Though many of the topics had been discussed and studied in the context of my graduate studies, the course still had value for me. Some concepts were a refresher (e.g. interests), while others were new (e.g. imprinting).
After taking the course, I had the opportunity to interview a number of people from various industries who had participated in Tero trainings within the prior year. I was interested in seeing what people took away from their own experiences, what they valued, and how it impacted their everyday lives. Most interviews were done via a short (15 minute) phone conversation, while the remainder were conducted via email and via an e-survey format (Survey Monkey).
My first question for past participants was a crucial one. What did people leave with following their training program? Although I spoke with people who had taken one of several different courses, there were similar takeaways across the spectrum of programs. Most people left with several new takeaway items. Some of these takeaways were tangible items, such as the workbook. However, most of the takeaways that participants mentioned were intangible ones. Most cited, in order, were the following: one or more of the four steps to win/win collaborative outcomes; asking questions (especially open-ended ones); discovering common ground; and general communication skills.
During the course of my conversations and interactions with participants, they were able to relate to me different situations in which the takeaway skills were able to be used in an effective way. Most of the situations revolved around workplace scenarios, and included some of the following types of interactions:
Using an interest analysis to deal with direct-report employees who wanted time off.
Employing active listening skills when engaging with high-emotion customers.
Finding common ground with newly hired executive staff.
Framing a conversation so that a negotiation goes more smoothly.
Participating more effectively in meetings.
Outside of the workplace, several participants share how the takeaway tools learned at Tero even translated into their personal lives; from real estate deals to listening better in an argument! The applicability of many of these skills is indicative of the breadth and depth that these tools possess.
Besides the takeaways that Tero graduates leave with following a training program, there are a host of resources available. Because the programs are only a couple of days long in most cases, the resources help to remind participants of the skills learned. The most popular resource cited by participants was the desk plaque; a two-sided reference card with abridged information summarizing several key points covered in the class. In addition to the desk plaque, many participants especially appreciated the workbook received at their training session (used as a reference) as well as the monthly newsletter ("eZine"), which you are reading right now! Even if the materials were not referenced as often as people would have liked. Most participants surveyed indicated at least a monthly connection with one or more resources. Participants found their availability helpful nonetheless.
One of the more interesting questions posed to Tero graduates was the following: "How would you rate your confidence in a challenging conversation with someone before vs. after the Influencing Outcomes [or other] training, using a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most confident?" Nearly every respondent (95%) noted a jump in the level of confidence experienced! Challenging conversations provide Tero graduates the opportunity to shine in the midst of conflict by practicing skills such as asking open-ended questions, listening actively, and discovering common interests. Highlights of confidence-related findings are as follows:
Overall, there was an average increase of 2.3 confidence points per participant; nearly a 25% increase!
There were very intriguing results based by industry and gender.
By industry: Participants in non-sales related industries experienced higher increases in confidence levels, averaging between 2.5 and 3 points. Sales-related participants noted an average increase of approximately 1.5 points. While the reasons behind these particular findings warrant further explanation, the results still trend toward the indication that growth in confidence was experienced by people in a variety of industries such as healthcare, insurance, as well as sales.
By gender: Females and males displayed a differentiation of confidence increases across industries. While male participants averaged an increase of 1 confidence point, females experienced an increase of nearly 3 points (2.9) on average. Again, the reasons behind these results warrant additional investigation, and could be indicative of several factors.
I was glad to assist Tero in discovering how their training programs are assisting people to engage more effectively in situations where conflict can occur. Tero graduates learn and have access to many "tools" that can encourage them in the challenges they face in the workplace and elsewhere. It is my hope that you, as a fellow Tero graduate, can continue to reflect upon your own training experience and learn to draw upon the well of resources available to you.
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