Human Resources

Amherst Training Curriculum Options

The programs listed below offer brief descriptions of training programs available through Amherst College Training and Development. These programs can be requested by and customized for specific groups or individuals, and Human Resources will offer a schedule of sessions on an ongoing basis to the campus community. Trainings on additional topics can be requested as needed.


John Adair created a leadership model that identifies three areas that leaders need to attend to:

  • Achieve the Task
  • Build and Maintain the Team
  • Develop the Individual

Understanding these three areas and how to support them effectively allows leaders to gain insights into how to improve their own effectiveness as well as the performance results of their employees. Deciding which area needs attention at any given moment can help a leader prioritize his/her time.



The Chinese symbol for crisis has two characters – the upper one represents “danger” and the lower represents “opportunity.” Change often embodies both choices for people. Managing change involves helping people understand the change process – recognizing that change is both an event and a process of transition. This training examines the three phases of change (Endings, Neutral Zone and New Beginnings) in order to determine effective methods for managing the transition.



How do you engage in conflict? The Thomas-Kilman Conflict Instrument describes five conflict styles: Avoiding, Accommodating, Competing, Compromising and Collaborating. Becoming skillful at managing conflict starts with understanding your own tendencies when faced with conflict and then examining the advantages and disadvantages of each style.


How do you interact with your “customers?” Who are your customers? Customers can be both external – the students, another function on campus – and internal – a co-worker who needs something from you. Understanding what a customer wants and needs is the first step in providing excellent customer service. Other skills include: managing expectations, effectively communicating with the customer and building strong relationships.



Debriefing is the process of helping people review and learn from their experiences as a means for improving their performance. The process is based on the Experiential Learning Cycle, using a three stage discussion that evaluates “what happened,” examines the impact of what occurred – the “so what,” draws conclusions from the situation – and finally identifies ideas and actions to improve in the future – the “now what.” An effective debrief can help individuals and teams identify what they are doing well in addition to areas that may need improvement or change. Debriefing involves observation, the ability to assess the dynamics of a situation, the ability to ask effective questions and the art of listening – all skills that can enhance and improve one’s ability to manage teams as well as lead productive meetings.


(based on Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler)

The authors define a crucial conversation as having three characteristics: 1) opinions vary, 2) stakes are high and 3) emotions run strong. This program presents strategies and techniques for maintaining safety, creating productive dialogue and identifying ways to find solutions that meet the interests of both sides.



People often complain that attending meetings is frustrating and an ineffective use of their time. Managers and supervisors complain that running an effective meeting is difficult because it is challenging to get people to actively participate. Leading an effective meeting includes:

  • Understanding the elements of a great meeting
  • Being aware of the different roles that can manage a meeting’s needs
  • Developing observational skills to detect when a meeting may be drifting off course, and
  • Learning intervention techniques to correct or redirect a meeting.


Why are facilitation skills useful and important? Effective facilitators can create participation, encourage input and develop commitment and involvement. When groups of people need to work together, there are tensions and potential conflicts that arise. Leaders can direct teams and individuals to accomplish their goals. Facilitators help develop skills and create an environment where group members feel that they accomplish the goals on their own. This program focuses on observation skills, asking skillful questions, understanding group dynamics and developing effective intervention techniques.


Do you find yourself making assumptions about why others act the way they do? Do you observe yourself and others being quick to judge the actions and behaviors of people? Everyone forms opinions and judgments about others, and sometimes they occur so fast we do not even recognize that we are creating them or why they are so influential in guiding our own actions and responses. And sometimes the conclusions we draw are based on flawed observations which can create misunderstandings and lead to conflict. This tool helps people understand how their internal thinking works and offers useful insights into how we interpret observable actions and translate them into assumptions, conclusions and beliefs which then influence our actions. Understanding this process can help people slow down their thinking, allow them to focus on observable behaviors and then create more effective responses to people and situations.


Whenever people work together, agreements are made about how people will interact and behave with each other. Sometimes those agreements are explicit and understood; in many cases, these agreements are implicit and lack a common and mutual understanding. To develop an effective team and nurture a positive work environment, creating a set of norms is a crucial foundation block on which to build. Once norms are created and people commit to them, group members can assume more responsibility for monitoring and adjusting their own behaviors.


Conducting an effective employee review requires a range of skills:

  •   Communication
  •   Building open and respectful relationships
  •   Conflict management
  •   Giving and receiving feedback
  •   Goal setting
  •   Working with the self-evaluation format.

This program offers an overview of the basic skills as well as exploring ideas on how to improve one’s ability to conduct a performance evaluation.


The DiSC Behavioral Styles profile explores how and why people act the way they do at work. The model identifies four basic styles and explores the potential strengths and limitations of each style. The inventory provides information about:

  •  What motivates people
  •  How people work most effectively
  •  What is important to people at work

This inventory offers a simple framework for understanding your own style and the styles of others and DiSC creates a common language for discussing how to improve relationships at work. An introduction to DiSC can improve interpersonal understanding and develop more productive teams. By drawing on the additional content available through the DiSC profiles, groups and individuals can explore more thoroughly techniques and ideas that can impact both task performance and interpersonal effectiveness.


Why is training on sexual harassment important? First, it is the law. Institutions are required to create policies dealing with sexual harassment and to educate their staff to understand the policies and recognize harassment when it occurs. Second, it is important that people understand how to respond to instances of harassment and how to behave appropriately at work to avoid harassing behaviors. Third and perhaps most importantly, training is necessary to prevent situations that might be interpreted as harassment from arising in the first place.


Situational Leadership, developed by the Ken Blanchard Company, offers a four quadrant model that explores how a leader’s behaviors and actions adapt and change to meet the needs of a specific situation or person. The four styles of leadership include:

  •  Directing
  •  Coaching
  •  Supporting
  •  Delegating

Each style can be effective when used in an appropriate situation. Effective leaders are able to assess the people and the dynamics of a given situation and to choose a leadership style that matches the unique circumstances of that person and event.


Teamwork has become a focus for many organizations as a method for increasing performance and improving work relationships. Teams are complex and require development and maintenance to achieve high levels of performance. To build and lead high performing teams, it is important to define and understand what a team is and isn’t, as well as to recognize the stages of a team’s growth and development. Team development training can include any of the following content modules:

  • Defining what is a team (from Katzenbach & Smith Wisdom of Teams)
  • Exploring the Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model to understand the cycle of growth and development of teams
  • Orientation and launching of teams as well as interventions for intact teams
  • Cross-functional team building and communication
  • Interventions to address specific issues among team members

Other training modules can be designed to focus on developing specific skills to meet the needs of a particular team or to address a specific issue or concern which may be limiting a team’s effectiveness.


In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about taking control of one’s time. He emphasizes the distinction between what is urgent and what is important, thus influencing which tasks receive more attention and priority. Supervisors and leaders face choices every day about how to spend their time. Recognizing and identifying both the important and the urgent is a starting point for managing time more effectively.