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How do I design conciliation training for different organisations?

Having worked with over 20 different government agencies, Ombudsman organisations, Commissions and regulatory bodies, I am well aware that conciliation and other facilitative dispute resolution processes are practiced very differently between organisations. So how is it possible to develop and deliver training that is interesting, relevant and applicable in such a diverse area of practice?

As I have shown in the image below, no two workshops I deliver are ever the same. Before I design any training for a conciliation body, I take time to look closely at the particular jurisdiction, context and needs of the stakeholders. I apply statutory interpretation, legal research and stakeholder analysis skills to ensure I understand the needs of the particular dispute resolution context. I then design services that are heavily informed by the particular experiences of the audiences I am engaging with.

Pre course surveys and meetings with team managers are essential to understanding the level of expertise and confidence of the group and to ensure that any learning activities are enjoyable and challenging and delivered at the right level.

In many cases, instead of training a group of conciliators, I will facilitate a discussion that challenges the status quo and encourages the group to make improvements based on their own experience and ideas. This is my favourite type of discussion as the process of learning is simply a process of uncovering the knowledge in the organisation and connecting the dots to form new understandings.

It is essential that training for each conciliator group is customised to the needs of the groups. This is because some conciliation organisations are focused on fast and fair outcomes, while other conciliator bodies are focused on regulatory compliance. In some cases, conciliation organisations are managing complaints from highly vulnerable self represented complainants, while other conciliation bodies management highly commercial disputes that almost always involve legal representatives.

The focus and delivery of a learning and development activity for such a broad range of processes must therefore be carefully customised to make the best use of everyone’s precious time!

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