24 Jun 2008

Office politics, conflict and resolution: new professional development courses from The Open University

No matter how good you are at your work, you’re unlikely to rise high in your organisation unless you are also good at managing people. And effective people management is also vital to organisational success.

People skills come more naturally to some than others but they can be learnt – and now The Open University has produced a set of online continuing professional development (CPD) courses to help aspiring managers tackle issues ranging from office feuds to company politics.

The courses, the latest in the growing range of flexible online CPD courses from The Open University’s Centre for Professional Learning and Development, are designed for people in full-time employment to study at their computer, in their workplace or at home. And they allow employees to use and reflect on their actual experience at work while studying.

As many as 65 per cent of organisational performance problems have some aspect of conflict at their core. Simon Rae is the lead Open University academic on the two courses Managing Organisational Politics and Managing Conflict. He says failure to tackle office conflict can cost companies dear.

“Take a familiar situation where an employee and their line manager don’t get on. If the situation is allowed to escalate to where there is an official complaint of bullying, or somebody is signed off work because of stress, it can start to cost your organisation a lot of money. It is much better if you can get in and sort out these things early.

“What Managing Conflict does is help you recognise the symptoms of trouble and deal with them through negotiation – it’s about good line management and personal management skills.

“Office politics is something that some people think is about being ‘sneaky’, but they shouldn’t. We all play at politics, even if we don’t realise it. If we want something done, we get to know the best person to ask – even if they may not be the person who is officially responsible.

“Studying organisational politics helps the individual to realise what is going on in the organisation, and why, what they can do about it and what to watch out for.”

The other new CPD courses The Open University has just released are How well do you communicate? ; Learning to lead ; Time management for you and your team ; and Effective virtual teams. All the courses are aimed at employees who are seeking to develop themselves and enhance their promotion potential, or who have recently been given increased responsibility.

They require approximately 30 hours of study in the students’ own time. Students don’t need to leave their workplace to attend workshops, and because study is spread over a period of time they can relate the courses to what is happening in their own workplace and apply what they are learning.

Study is online but students can draw on one-to-one advice from one of The Open University’s learning advisors. They relate their course work to their own job and receive feedback from their learning advisor and a certificate of course completion to add to their CPD profile.

For more information visit The Open University’s OU at Work website at

Editor’s Notes
Feature articles on Managing conflict in the workplace and How well do you communicate? are available for journalists to use free of charge, providing the reference in the final paragraph is retained. Contact Kath Hardwick to obtain these:

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