Tutu Foundation Mediation Service seminars and training

The TFMS Programme

The seminars and training in communication and mediation skills can be tailored to the specific needs of the Health and Corporate sectors. The programme is led by Paul Randolph, a senior barrister, mediator and trainer, with over 40 years experience in dispute resolution, and who has written two books on the psychology of conflict. His team of trainers includes lawyers, psychotherapists, and social work professionals, all trained in the psychological approach to conflict. They offer a wealth of specialist expertise in psychologically-informed facilitation skills and techniques used effectively in all aspects of conflict and peace-building. Paul has trained and accredited over 1,000 mediators in the UK and abroad, through the Mediation Skills Course at Regent’s University London, where he is the Course Leader. The programmes delivered by Paul have already been effective in reducing complaints, diminishing litigation, and improving staff satisfaction rates at Banks, Universities and other corporate entities.

The program is versatile and can be tailored to respond to the specific needs of the particular communities involved, whilst retaining the original spirit of the program. It can range from short talks and presentations to highly interactive seminars, conferences and training sessions.

These sessions can be conducted as 1 to 3 hour taster introductory sessions, through to more comprehensive 2, 3, 4 or even 5-day programs. More advanced training, as part of a ‘train the trainer’ program can also be utilized to provide sustainability and continuity.

The business case for improved communication skills

Communication skills are the essence of all inter-personal relationships, whether in the corporate world or in the health sector. Good communications promote better mutual understandings, creating trust and rapport. They foster efficiency through the creation of steadfast relations, resulting in enhanced engagement and greater motivation. Poor communications, on the other hand, invariably cause protracted and entrenched disputes – largely through misunderstandings.

These skills are therefore an invaluable tool for all professionals involved in high context relationships with others, whether doctors with patients, executives with colleagues or staff, or executives and corporates with their counterparts.

TFMS can work with professionals, offering insights into highly sensitive and emotional issues such as:

  • communication across ethnic and cultural divides
  • leadership and team-building for organisational success
  • managing equality, diversity, bullying and harassment
  • conducting ‘difficult conversations’
  • complaint handling
  • negotiating and mediation skills for overcoming deadlock and impasse

Internal and HR Disputes

Disputes in the Health and Corporate sectors are damaging and costly. They deplete organisations of time, energy and money – all vital commodities affecting productivity. In America, The Global Human Capital Report on Workplace Conflict (2008) reported that American workers spent an average of 2.8 hours a week dealing with conflict, translating into 385 million work days and approximately 359 billion dollars in wages.

Yet conflict is ever-present in all organisations, and cannot be wholly eliminated. But when properly managed, through the deployment of good communication, these disputes can be transformed into a vehicle for good, resulting in beneficial changes, whilst at the same time avoiding stagnation of the enterprise.

Complaint handling

The problem of complaint handling has been well noted, particularly in UK reports within the National Health Service. These reports revealed that complaints systems often exacerbated the negative experience of patients, and that the most common reasons for dissatisfaction were inadequate apologies and poor responses to complaints. The UK NHS Hospital Complaints System Review in 2011 recommended that there should be training for all those who respond to complaints, and that communication skills should be a core part of the curriculum for all trainee clinical staff.

Front-line complaint handlers, if provided with communication skills and insights into the psychology of complainants, could be rendered more effective in neutralizing complaints, thereby preventing them from escalating further, and from taking up more time and energy, and possibly culminating in full-blown litigation claims.

The problem of complaint handling within the NHS was noted by the Commons Select Committee on Health in their Report on NHS Complaints and Litigation in June 2011[1]:

“The NHS complaints system sometimes compounds and exacerbates the negative experiences of patients. In such situations, patients have little choice but to give up or turn to the legal system. It is worth noting that the motivation of complainants is often not to seek compensation for failures of care but rather to have their concerns listened to and acted upon in order to reduce the likelihood of similar failings happening again”

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s report for 2014-2015[2] also showed that the two most commonly cited reasons for dissatisfaction with an acute trust’s complaints process were: receiving an inadequate apology, and receiving an inadequate response to their complaint.

‘Difficult Conversations’

Corporate executives as well as medical professionals encounter difficult management issues on a daily basis. Many are reluctant to become involved in emotional ‘difficult conversations’ over performance and conduct matters, or deal with grievances and personality clashes. Yet effective communication techniques in such instances can improve levels of performance and attendance, and heighten employee engagement.

Doctor and Patient Conversations

Medical professionals rely heavily upon the history provided by the patient in any diagnosis they make. Mutual misunderstandings or misinterpretations can be fatal. Similarly, doctors are frequently obliged to deal with personal problems, comfort or reassure patients, or deliver some unpalatable and painful message.

Effective communication skills can help doctors in encouraging patients to ‘open up’ and speak more freely about their ailments and so provide them with more valuable diagnostic material. Similarly, the skills and techniques of communication can render these conversations less ‘difficult’ and more productive for the medical professional. Avoiding Litigation through Mediation Skills

Avoiding Litigation

Organisations in the Health and Industry sectors spend huge sums each year on legal costs in pursuing and defending litigation claims. In the UK, the NHS spent almost £500m. in legal fees and some £800m in compensation, in one year. The protracted litigation was damaging, affecting the productivity at work, harmony at home, and general health of all those doctors, staff, and administrators affected by the conflict.

A UK audit carried out in 2014 by CEDR (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution) showed that mediation skills saved commercial businesses approximately £2.4 billion a year in wasted management time, damaged relationships, lost productivity and legal fees.

Similarly, a 2011 report (“Quantifying The Cost Of Not Using Mediation”) prepared for the European Parliament, showed that citizens saved an average of 80% of the litigation costs by mediating rather than litigating, with mediation success rates averaging at 75%.

Mediation is a more caring and compassionate means of resolving conflict. The skills deployed by mediators allow parties to be properly heard, and achieve outcomes that are more satisfying than litigation – such as a proper apology or adequate explanation.


[1] http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmhealth/786/78604.htm

[2] www.ombudsman.org.uk/reports-and-consultations/reports/health/complaints-about-acute-trusts-2014-15/5

Costs

The Tutu Foundation UK are conversant with the needs of the particular communities to whom the program is to be delivered, and we are willing to discuss the costs in accordance with their individual requirements and within the constraints of their resources.

As stated above, the programs can be tailored to specific needs, and costs will naturally depend upon the length and intensity of their delivery, and in particular the number of tutors required. As a pure guideline, members of the TFMS training team would expect fees of approximately £250 plus Vat per hour per trainer for talks and seminars lasting less than half a day; and approximately £750 plus Vat for day per trainer for longer training sessions. The number of trainers will be governed by the level and intensity of the training requested.

However, the Foundation is a charity, and whereas funds are ever important, we are not essentially profit-driven. TFMS can therefore be flexible on costs, and would discuss individual needs.