It is one of the Organizational Development techniques for bringing up change that try to improve organizational effectiveness and employee wellbeing. It also helps the participants to learn and adjust with the group dynamics. This technique was developed in 1940s by Ronald Lippitt and Kurt Lewin
It refers to changing behavior through unstructured group interaction. It can also be called laboratory training, T-groups and encounter groups interchangeably. Members of different gender, culture and abilities are brought together in a free and open environment, in which participants discuss different issues in an interactive way. It is loosely directed by a professional behavior scientist who creates opportunities for everybody to express their ideas, emotions, perceptions, attitudes and beliefs. Nobody is a leader in such an interaction. This group in process oriented, meaning that everybody learns by observing and participating rather than being ordered or told to do a certain activity.
Disadvantages of Sensitivity Training:
• Many participants find these activities unstructured and chaotic
• It might damage the work relations between employees
• Superior-subordinate relationship is tampered because it is an informal activity
• Participants are not able to express what they truly believe because of the presence of a behavior scientist
• It doesn’t find out any deep psychological reason for a person behaving in a certain manner
Importance of Sensitivity Training:
• It helps employees be sensitive to the existing diversity in the workplace. It leads to better understanding between members of the organization
• Helps to build good interpersonal relationships with their team members
• Educates the members about constructive behavior which will benefit everybody working in the organization.
• Helps managers get an insight into their own behavior
• Helps to develop correct behavioral and emotional actions
This method of organizational development was extremely famous in 1960s; By 1970s the use of this method diminished and has eventually disappeared.
However, organizational interventions such as diversity training, team building exercise and coaching have evolved of the organizational development technique. Feedback is a very important element of this training. It helps the manager know if the attitude and behavior he/she is inhibiting is effective or not.