Trainers Ask: Pencil-and-paper vs. Digital Format?

How long should your conflict styles workshop be?

If you are planning a conflict styles workshop you'll need to decide how long to make it.  In part it depends which version of the conflict style assessment you're using.

Traditional Pencil and Paper Format

In traditional pencil and paper training format, you might calculate
  • Handout booklets and give quick instructions - 5 minutesPencilpaper
  • Taking inventory - 10-15 minutes
  • Tally numbers - 5 minutes (each person tallying their own)
  • Explaining core concepts and interpreting numbers - 10-30 minutes
  • Small group and large group discussion - 20-60 minutes

That would be enough to cover the basics of conflict styles in 80-120 minutes.  You could easily do a lot more, of course, if you have another hour or several more.   See my Trainers Guide, available as a free download, for ideas.   

Conflict Styles Training with Digital Support

Online tools open another scenario that many trainers like because it pushes individual activities outside of workshop time and allows the trainer to dedicate more classroom time to discussion.  

Using the online version could look something like this:

  • You send users an email with instructions to login and take the inventory at home (using a pre-paid code or a special login sent from the trainer dashboard).  They then bring a printed out computer-generated score report to workshop.  Assuming they are competent with computers, this entire process will take them 10-20 minutes on their own time before the workshop.
  • You could instruct users to watch one or more online videos on our site.   The most important is the 5 minute Intro to Conflict Styles.  
  • In the workshop, if time allows, I'd recommend giving a lecture on core concepts and interpreting numbers (same as the one referred to in the first outline above), in 10-30 minutes.  
  • But if time is tight, or the trainer is not up for giving an intro to core concepts, with the online version, you could skip a lecture and just have users go straight to their  score reports.
  • The digital score report is packed with info. There's a lot to look at and discuss there.   In the process of discussing score reports, a lot of core concepts get clarified and reinforced.   So, for example, you could form 5 groups, one for each style, and ask people to go to the group which is indicated in their score report as their highest in Storm.

    In these groups, they each share what they see as one of their best strengths in the use of this style, and also each tells a short story of a time when they see that they over-used this style and it created difficulty.  Hopefully you'll have more than an hour, in which case you can get lots of ideas for valuable discussion in the Trainers Guide.

Using this approach, it's possible to do a compact but coherent conflict styles workshop in as short as an hour.  A length of 90-120 minutes would be better, but if an hour is all you can give, you can still create a worthwhile learning experience.

When using the online version, the Style Matters dashboard or coupon access allow you to send out invitations without big demands on your time to users.

For years I felt that users got a roughly equivalent product in the print and online versions.  But recently my assessment has changed.  In early 2017 we substantially upgraded the algorithm for generating online score reports.  It looks for a variety of patterns in the numbers and generates a detailed score report accordingly.   This score report contains many suggestions for self-management based on scores, including situations where user scores are quite close among several styles.

An experienced trainer able to study an individual score report for several minutes can probably get close to that level of analysis.  But in group settings, that's hardly possible due to time constraints.   Even if the trainer is able to quickly identify the patterns, it takes several minutes of talking per user to describe those patterns.  The limits of time make it impossible to provide that with more than a couple of people.

So, much as I love the human connection of the old-fashioned pencil-and-paper format, users get more specific, targeted feedback if they use the online version.  

The ideal is a combo approach:  Users take the inventory on their own online and bring a printed out score report to class.   The trainer then works with them in reflecting on their score report and comparing notes with others.