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What Is Sensitivity Training for Managers? - Exercises & Importance in the Workplace

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  • 0:01 Sensitivity Training
  • 0:32 Sensitivity Training…
  • 0:57 Sensitivity Training…
  • 2:55 Sensitivity Training Example
  • 3:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
Sensitivity training can help improve the relationships between managers and employees. In this lesson, you'll learn about sensitivity training and its key concepts. You'll also have a chance to take a short quiz after the lesson.

Sensitivity Training

Sensitivity training is a type of group training that focuses on helping organizational members to develop a better awareness of group dynamics and their roles in the group. The training often addresses issues such as gender and multicultural sensitivity as well as sensitivity towards the disabled. The goal of the training is focused on individual growth. Kurt Lewin and Ronald Lippitt originally developed the technique in the 1940s.

The Importance of Sensitivity Training

The contemporary workplace is very diverse and is becoming more so every day. Managers need to understand, be sensitive to, and be able to adapt to the various needs, concerns, and characteristics of a multitude of different people. Sensitivity training will help managers to personally cultivate good interpersonal relationships with members of their team and help facilitate respective and productive group relations among team members.

Sensitivity Training in Practice

A core part of sensitivity training is sharing your own perceptions of everyone else in the group. This is supposed to provide information about your characteristics, concerns, emotional issues, and other things that you may have in common with the group members. Consequently, sensitivity training has been compared to group psychotherapy because it involves exploration and sharing of emotions, personality, and relationships. However, the group's focus is very practical: the focus is on the current issues facing everyone and the organization. The training does not explore any deep psychological causes of an individual's behavior.

The primary objective of sensitivity training is to educate you and the other participants about more constructive behavior that will be beneficial to you and everyone else in the organization. It helps an individual by providing insight into your behavior and helps you develop corrective emotional and behavioral actions.

Feedback is also an essential element of sensitivity training. Feedback from other members in the group session will help you determine if the behavior you're exhibiting is meaningful or effective. It also provides a means of continuously learning appropriate conduct throughout the group session. Trainers attempt to break down your inhibitions, helping to facilitate the frankness and self-expression necessary for effective communication for the purposes of the training.

You should note that the goals of sensitivity training might not always align well with the goals of your organization. Sensitivity training seeks to produce more openness and sensitivity in others to improve interpersonal relations. This can certainly benefit an organization, as we discussed in the previous section, but you must keep in mind that organizational goals are often related to more impersonal objectives, such as increases in profitability and performance, which may not necessarily sync well with the goals of creating a more sensitive and open workplace. Consequently, the training must be adjusted to align with organizational goals, as appropriate.

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