A California University teaches students how to fire people.
A new program has been created by a US university that teaches students how to handle difficult conversations at work, including how to fire people.
Students were able to roleplay uncomfortable scenarios from both sides to help them understand the potential problems. Many students found themselves conflict-avoidant right at the beginning of the program.
Instructors Francesca LeBaron (an executive coach and mediator for startups) and Breona Jenkins (a senior leader development associate at Pixar Animation Studios), developed the course.
Both observed that people in their lives, whether they were ex-classmates or colleagues, had difficulty with difficult conversations in these situations.
Jenkins stated, “If we make an apology, but we aren’t sure what we did or we don’t genuinely regret what we did, it could be another form of conflict avoidance.”
“We need to ask ourselves if we are just trying to get past the discomfort.”
LeBaron pointed out that the sessions are about “maintaining contact, even when we disagree”
What is your goal? What is your objective? To make the person feel heard, to solve problems, or to share your needs? How effective did you achieve that goal?
Students are encouraged to give feedback and write essays on their conflict styles.
Jenkins stated that it was important for students to find ways to continue practicing the work even after class ends. They should be able to see where they are on their conflict journey and know what they want to do next.
The course was well received by students who said they feel more confident when dealing with difficult issues in the workplace.
Mariam Al-Rayes MBA 23, said, “I wish this had been taught earlier in life.” “The role-playing was very useful, like when alumni spoke to us as our managers. It was realistic and we were able to apply what we had learned in class.
LeBaron and Jenkins will lead the course in Autumn 2023 to equip leaders with the conflict-dealing skills they need.