In my last blog I described a recent case study with a large NZ company, which began by questioning the usefulness of a 360 feedback system comprising 31 dimensions, each rated on a 0 to 5 scale. Complex rating systems like this are almost impossible to analyse, and as a first step the dimensions were reduced by factor analysis to just two, labelled Relationship Skills and Task Skills. The study examined the relationship between these two factors and managers' scores on the eight scales comprising the pre-training CoC Profile: Rumination, Emotional Inhibition, Toxic Achieving, Avoidance Coping, Perfect Control, Detached Coping, Sensitivity, and Flexibility. A ninth scale which combined Detached Coping and Sensitivity into Detached Compassion (comparable to empathy) was added, and the results showed that positive feedback on Relationship Skills was a function of low scores on Emotional Inhibition and high scores on Detached Compassion.
The effects of CoC Resilience training on sickness-absence and CoC Profile scores
Most of the research that underpins the Challenge of Change (CoC) training programmes is based on experimental studies of the relationship between resilience and health indices from cardiovascular functioning and immune efficiency. The 360 feedback study was one of a series of four case studies that have been conducted over the years exploring the effectiveness of the training, which began with a published blind controlled trial (Roger & Hudson, International Journal of Stress Management, 1995) showing that the training significantly reduced sickness-absence in trained groups compared with dummy-trained controls.
The sickness-absence study also included a follow-up assessment of Detached Coping, and there was a significant enhancement of Detached Coping in the trained groups. A further study focusing on Profile score changes has since been carried out in a large New Zealand company, using staff from two sectors of the organisation that were physically separate from one another. CoC Resilience training had been planned for groups from both sectors, but while the groups from one sector received the training it had to be postponed for the groups in the other sector. This provided the opportunity to compare experimental (trained) and control (untrained) sets of groups. In preparation for the training participants from both sectors had completed the CoC Profile, and the study compared the scores for the groups on Detached Coping and Rumination. One of the shortcomings of re-administering tests is that participants' responses are biased by recall, and consequently an inter-test interval of one year was used to ensure decay in recall effects.
Participants also completed the CoC Climate Survey, which provides a sensitive barometer of organisational climate on four dimensions labelled Management Style, Empowerment, Workload and Communication. The re-administration of Detached Coping, Rumination and the Climate Survey showed a significant reduction in Rumination and a significant increase in Detached Coping for the trained groups, with no change for the controls. Scores on three of the Climate Survey dimensions (Management Style, Empowerment and Communication) had also increased significantly for the experimental groups.
The most recent study was conducted in large UK organisation during 2011. CoC Resilience training was provided by Jo Clarke, an accredited Associate of the Work Skills Centre based in York, for managers from each of the four geographical sectors within the organisation. Participants had completed the CoC Profile and the Climate Survey prior to the training, and after a 6-month interval the instruments were re-administered. Although this study lacked a control group, the results showed that scores on Rumination and Emotional Inhibition had decreased and Detached Coping scores had increased significantly for the trained managers, indicating a substantial enhancement of resilience skills.
There were no significant changes in the scores on the CoC Climate Survey, but in view of the very high baseline scores for these managers on the Climate Survey dimensions it was not surprising that there had been no significant change. What the results indicate is that there is a high level of engagement and job satisfaction amongst managers in this organisation, but that they needed the resilience skills provided by the training to be able to cope more effectively with high levels of pressure.
Changes in sickness-absence were also assessed as part of the study. Sickness-absence rates for the participants in the training were recorded as well as the rates for the organisation as a whole, and comparing the rates for the six-month follow-up period of the study with the corresponding six-month period the previous year showed that sickness-absence was reduced at follow-up by between 16% and 43% across the four sectors, compared with a change of just 0.25% for the organisation as a whole.
Resilience training that really works
Taken together, the case studies show clearly that resilience skills can significantly be enhanced by implementing tried and tested evidence-based programmes like CoC Resilience training. The enhanced resilience scores following the training was echoed across all four studies, and the results also show how 360 feedback can be made more useful and practical by implementing appropriate psychometric procedures.