I was prompted to consider this question recently when an email appeared in my inbox suggesting that I could learn “how to manage conflict in the workplace” in just a quarter of an hour. Now I have been known to take half-a-day on this very subject as part of a management training programme so I was keen to understand where I had been going wrong.

Further investigation revealed that the necessary wisdom would be imparted by downloading a training video which I could then watch at my convenience. A sample clip was included in the email and this showed a smart looking trainer delivering some dos and don’ts of conflict management into the camera.

So if I were to subscribe and watch the full 15 minutes would I learn anything?

I am unconvinced that for a subject of this complexity that I would. Let me explain with a simple diagram known to most in the training world as “The Learning Model”.

flow chart

In a nutshell learning is achieved when awareness is raised, that awareness is developed into a deeper knowledge and then that knowledge is honed into valuable skills.

I feel sure that watching the video would most likely raise my level of awareness, assuming that I am not distracted of course. Perhaps I get to hear about the difference between passive, assertive and aggressive communication styles. My challenge now is how I turn that awareness into real knowledge because there is a world of difference between knowing of something and knowing about something. How can I ask questions, where can I discuss and contrast my interpretation of these terms, what if after 10 minutes I am confused? Even if there was an excellent accompanying workbook or an easily accessible online FAQ page I am unsure how confident I would be to take the plunge and test my knowledge (or lack of skill) in the workplace.

One of the ways Reality Business brings management training to life is by scheduling regular 15 minute breakout sessions giving delegates the chance to discuss real issues and share their ideas and consider different approaches.

I am sure that there are some things that can be learned in 15 minutes on your own in front of a screen but management and leadership skills is not one of them. In my experience, both as a manager and as a trainer, this is for the very simple reason that there is never just one way of managing and leading anybody.