Mediation Training for Virgin Money’s HR Team:

When 2macs first talked to Virgin Money about working together there were two main challenges:

Firstly, it was about getting the content and delivery approach right. Ensuring people gained an in-depth understanding of workplace conflict, how it arises, is sustained and therefore what is required to de-escalate and ultimate resolve the situation.  More importantly, however, it was about being practical and developing tools, techniques and skills that could readily be transferred back into the workplace.  After all, the key driver behind this piece of work was broadening the pool of expertise so the team was less reliant on the small number of individuals who already had mediation experience and expertise.

There was then the age-old challenge of wanting to develop more people than you realistically have out of the business together for the amount of time it takes to do justice to a topic like mediation.

The solution was to build a programme based on 2macs’ tried and tested mediating conflict course with some local collaboration to make delivery viable. So, using a mixture of professional networks and some of 2macs’ other clients in the area, a group of like-minded business got together to hold two ‘open’ programmes, the second of which was hosted Virgin Money who split their HR team across the two courses.

It’s always a challenge when taking this approach to development; yes, people learn from other businesses and the sharing of experience and differing organisational approaches and responses enriches development. However, one of the things that makes 2macs’ mediating conflict course work, is the use of drama to surface and explore fundamental factors and then to provide authentic practice.  What helps make the drama effective is the tailoring of content to reflect the client and the operational realities faced by participants.  Getting characters, situations and context that all of the organisations taking part could relate to was therefore critical to making this collaborative approach work.

It helped that 2macs always set the drama in fictitious organisations so people don’t get too hung up on the minutiae of specific policy and procedure. Also, when it comes to workplace conflict, there is a universality to people’s behaviour which helps people to relate to both the situations and the characters that are portrayed.

The end result was two intensive but enjoyable courses, where people were thoroughly immersed in the subject and fully stretched by some of the characters and situations they were presented with (if you believe their feedback!). However, everyone emerged from the experience in one piece and with a new-found level of confidence and expertise plus a set of practical tools and techniques they could apply straight away.