The most commonly used Organizational Development intervention is sensitivity training. It is called laboratory training as it is conducted by creating an experimental laboratory situation in which employees are brought together, in groups, to interact in an unstructured environment. The members are encouraged to interact with new members and new individual behaviors.
The objectives of laboratory training are:
1. To help people understand themselves better.
2. To create better understanding of others.
3. To gain insight into the group process
4. To develop specific behavioral skills.
Some people never understand why they feel and act as they do and how the others feel about them. Some people are insensitive to the effects of their behavior upon others and their orders upon subordinates. Laboratory training helps such people to understand the impact of their behavior on others. Most of the people concentrate on what they are going to say rather than what the others are saying. This training develops the communication skills of the employers and develops them as good listeners. It also helps the participants to form into informal groups and teams and work more effectively.
Modus Operandi of Sensitivity Training
Sensitivity training provides face to face interaction. This training is carried out by largely unstructured groups without an agenda, leader and predetermined goals. The group is given complete freedom in developing their own devices, interactions and on-going process for interaction. Sometimes, the trainer introduces certain planned activities involving one or two professional trainers set in with each â€œTâ€? group. The emphasis in this training is not upon learning specific facts but upon gaining understanding of feelings, gestures, attitudes and emotions, i.e. sensitivity to oneself and others.
Another type of group is encounter group. These groups involve unstructured small group interaction under stress in a situation that requires people to become sensitive to one anotherâ€™s feelings in order to develop group activity. These groups seek to improve understanding of self and others, group process, culture and general behavior skills.
Laboratory training may include role playing, inter group competitive exercise, self-insight questionnaire, theory sessions with lectures, background readings, panel discussions and audio-visual aids in addition to â€˜Tâ€™ groups.
Most of the laboratory training takes place among the employees of the same department. These employees work together as a team. Team building is nothing but application of various techniques of sensitivity training to the actual work groups in various departments. These work groups consists of peers and a supervisor. Laboratory techniques are also applied to short-term work teams. The technique, like laboratory training, aims at improving inter-group relations. This technique is designed to improve ability of the employees to work together as teams.