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Conflict Management in Higher Ed Report
Volume 6, Number 1, Nov 2005

A Community College
Transforms Its Culture

WHAT NEXT?

People indicated that training is now needed for intact work groups. Many observed that it was effective to conduct the initial training in mixed, inter-department groups because it created a safe environment, and that now an important next step is to follow up with the people who work together. People observe that training with intact work groups would enable those groups to work on real issues, and share a common language. There has also been strong sentiment that some type of refresher course is needed because so much material had been covered in such a short time.

Currently the college has addressed both of these issues by putting in place a trained group of internal facilitators who are providing both regularly scheduled courses as well as training designed for individual work units.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

For a community college to successfully achieve a team structure requires strong, fundamental communication skills and competencies. This calls for the development of learning modules to teach faculty, and classified employees, managers, a range of communication skills, from managing conflict to collaboratively solving problems. At a time when community colleges increasingly are bringing employees together in teams, it is crucial to understand the concrete communication behaviors that contribute to teamwork. As colleges continue their commitment to being learning communities they must discover ways to make that learning part of the fabric of the culture. Carefully conceived training in conflict resolution and group process can assist a community college to make such a cultural transformation.

Susan R. Glaser, Ph.D. is a Professor (Retired) of Business Communication at the University of Oregon.
Peter A. Glaser, Ph.D. is President and partner with Susan at Glaser & Associates, Inc. in Eugene Oregon. More information on Glaser and Associates is available online at http://www.theglasers.com/
Larry Warford, Ph.D. is the Director of the League for Innovation’s Community College Workforce Partnership Network. He also directs the League's College and Careers Transitions Initiative (CCTI) funded by the U.S. Department of Education. At the time this article was written, he was Vice President for Instructional Services at Lane Community College

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