Managing in the Workplace

The Sawyer Business School expands its offerings with a new master’s program focused on management

How to handle difficult people at work and much more

Anyone who’s ever had or hoped for a management role at work will want to know about the Sawyer Business School’s new Master of Management Studies (MMS) that launches in fall 2019. With a focus on organizational behavior, negotiation, interpersonal skills, leadership, team-building, conflict resolution, and diversity, the MMS aims to give people the tools they need to successfully manage an organization’s most important asset: its people.

“The people we’re targeting for the MMS have worked for a couple of years and might be managing projects or starting to manage other people within those projects,” says Laurie Levesque, director of the MMS program. “Or maybe they work in a lab or as a programmer and now have responsibility for other people or want to be promoted into a position that does. They know they need training and knowledge to motivate and coach others and to deal with workplace issues.”

One of those issues—something that will sound familiar to many people—is addressed in an MMS core course called “Managing Difficult People at Work.”

“Almost everyone can relate to having a challenging interpersonal dynamic with someone in the workplace,” says Management & Entrepreneurship Professor Katrina Graham, who developed the course. “We try to teach how people can recognize the problems and how to change the dynamic in a way that’s helpful for all parties.”

Using a mix of role-play, traditional course work, and self-reflection, the class gives students tools and tactics to help them manage workplace issues. One strategy? Don’t let things fester.

“Having a difficult conversation with someone early on can actually nip the problem in the bud and prevent the situation from becoming worse,” she says. “But we tend to hope it’ll just go away on its own.”

As with other programs at the Sawyer Business School, students will be able to take part in travel seminars and get real-world experience as part of the curriculum.

“MMS students will interact with alumni and business leaders in Boston who will come to classes as guest speakers, instructors, and as clients for course projects,” says Levesque. “Students will apply their coursework to analyze and solve real challenges faced by local and global managers. Through assessments and feedback each student will gain self-knowledge that can be used to craft a personal model of leadership which will help guide them in their career.”

The Master of Management Studies is currently accepting applications for the fall of 2019.


Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs

Ben Hall
Office of Public Affairs