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Courage to Manage: Evaluation Summary

CMP Resolution Blog by Lesley Allport and Katherine Graham.

Demand for ‘soft skills’ training to prevent conflict is growing, and our clients have increasingly been asking for alternatives to classroom training that will effect behaviour change in a more cost-effective and less time-consuming way. We developed our latest e-learning package, The Courage to Manage: having essential conversations at work, in response.

We know that the approach we take in this programme works – we use the concepts all the time in the office, with our clients, colleagues, friends and family. However, we were keen to have some more objective data to support this claim, so one of our first client organisations participated in an evaluation study to assess the impact of the e-learning as a stand-alone and also a blended learning intervention on trainees’ skills in conducting difficult conversations.

The study involved 52 learners who took the programme in one of three ways:

The e-learning as a stand-alone intervention
The e-learning followed by a 4-hour classroom session
A 4-hour classroom session followed by the e-learning

The organisation’s objectives in training their managers were to deliver:

~an improvement in how prepared managers were for a conversation
~an increase in the timeliness, so conversations happening more quickly
~a reported increase in the level of skill at managers in actually having the conversation
~an improvement in the ability of managers to deal with high levels of emotion
~an improvement in the ability of managers to achieve what they wanted through the conversation but also maintain a positive working relationship with the other party.

All learners were asked to complete a pre-intervention self-assessment questionnaire which provided a baseline measurement of their confidence and competence in conducting difficult conversations. They then took the programme in one of the three ways outlined above, over a period of seven weeks. Finally, they completed a follow-up questionnaire, providing feedback on the classroom and e-learning programmes, and asking for post-intervention assessment of skills.

6 top findings about The Courage to Manage

1: The learners reported a skills improvement in all five tested areas (see opposite). The greatest shift was in their perceived skill at being able to conduct these conversations, which rose from an average of 3.6 to 4.9 (out of 6).
2: Five months after the programme, learners continued to rate their skills more highly in all five areas than they had prior to the training, indicating that the intervention delivered a lasting skills improvement
3: Learners also reported an improvement in their more general communications skills
4: Learners’ preference was for the blended learning package, rather than the stand-alone e-learning, although the e-learning alone also produced lasting skills improvements
5: Those who went through the half-day workshop spent, on average, an hour longer on the e-learning programme than those who did not. However, learners were slightly more likely to complete the e-learning programme if they had not attended a workshop
6: Those who attended the workshop first, were more likely to complete the e-learning than those who did it after the workshop

Why Learners liked the programme

~It was practical and applicable, not just theoretical
~It was easy to use, read and navigate
~The additional resources that came with the programme were useful and relevant
~It was thought suitable for all learning styles

Those who did the workshop as well as the e-learning valued the opportunity to practice their skills in a safe environment.

What we have learned from our research

The Courage to Manage: having essential conversations at work does, as we had surmised, effect behaviour change and lasting skills improvement. However, with all evaluation processes there are learning points. These were the main ones that the research highlighted:

A few learners had difficulty with basic IT issues (loss of passwords, losing work) and we recognise that the level of skill in this area needs to be assessed and additional input provided for those who are not familiar with e-learning

People spent longer on the programme than we had led them to believe they would. We need to do further research to discover what impact this had on their learning

A number of learners found it difficult to allocate time to the e-learning, and were interrupted when they attempted to do it at work. This reinforces our belief that time needs to be set aside specifically for this task rather than expecting individuals to manage this themselves

The e-learning workbook was not used as we had anticipated. We had expected people to complete it, using an actual situation that they wanted to address, and then submit it for feedback from our tutor and as evidence that they had completed the programme. They actually used it to record and develop their thinking, and to have something to refer back to. Not all learners worked their way right through the scenario to completion.

The e-learning was available to all learners for 10 months after they did the initial programme, yet no-one returned to it, despite the fact that a number of them reported having had difficult conversations after they had been trained. The e-learning has therefore been viewed as a one-off intervention to improve skills, rather than an ongoing resource to support managers whenever one of these situations arises.


Rebecca Foreman

Rebecca Foreman has worked at CMP Resolutions for over four years.  Her responsibilities include ensuring their projects are delivered in time, scope and with the high level of quality their clients expect.  She is particularly interested in the concepts of restorative processes, both in and out of the workplace.    MORE >

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