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Any Answers Digest #13 – local learning networks, appraisal hostility, conflict workshops, dealing with low morale


TrainingZONE Any Answers Digest - Issue 13
Wednesday 19 June 2002

********** THIS WEEK'S TOPICS ***** THIS WEEK'S TOPICS **********
Local learning networks, dealing with hostility to appraisals,
setting up conflict workshops, on low morale and motivation,
customer handling for engineers...
********** THIS WEEK'S TOPICS ***** THIS WEEK'S TOPICS **********

Log on to Any Answers to share your thoughts with other community
members free of charge any time at

Oxford Learning E-teaching primer
One day e-teaching primer workshop led & designed by
experienced e-teachers and researchers using the latest
research. Gives you a practical insight into the realities of
planning, designing and implementing e-learning
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What you asked this fortnight:
New questions posted include:

- Does anyone have examples of effective local training and
learning networks?, asks Rod Ashley

- I would like to hear from anyone who has trained customer
handling skills to Engineers, says Wendy Gannaway

- How can I certify a training course?, asks Beth Neill

Got a question you need answered? Post it now, free of charge at

University of Aberdeen
Routes to Knowledge - People and the Knowledge Economy: Unlocking
the Future - 27 June 2002. King's College Conference Centre,
Aberdeen. New economy, creativity and knowledge: who's responsible
for learning? Shift from providing training to facilitating
learning. Time to play a strategic role in influencing the way
organisations work. Training and development professionals, are
you ready for the challenge?

Featured question: Overcoming negativity towards appraisal
This year appraisals will be launched in the company I work for
(a little behind everyone else I know). Last week, one of the
managers gathered together all the Heads of Dept (who will be
delivering the appraisal) to tell them of the forthcoming change.
It was met with extreme negativity, with comments like 'I've got
enough to do without doing appraisals as well' and 'why should we
have to change, we've never had to do them before, why now?'.
Although the meeting ended with 'they're coming in, whether you
like it or not, I have been tasked with training said HoD's and
staff on appraisals. I want to really put over the benefits and
attempt to get their buy in, but faced with all the negativity -
what would you do?

Question submitted by Lisa Birch

Members responses

(edited responses appear - see site for full responses)

Get your Heads of Departments to take ownership of the scheme.
We have had the same issue as you and are still implementing our
scheme at the moment. We found that getting the managers involved
by asking them how they felt it would run best by a short
questionnaire, asking for example would it be better run annually
or on rolling employee start dates. We then gave full feedback on
the questionnaires received and explained why we couldn't work
with their suggestions if they were not suitable.

Kate Entract


I have trained various managers who were reluctant or
antagonistic about appraisals. Apart from their own previous bad
experiences, they were often anxious about a lack of competence
in assessing or giving feedback - especially if they, in turn,
would be appraised as appraisers! I give them a longer term
context and purpose for the appraisals. There should be NO
surprises at an annual appraisal meeting and I encourage them to
relate the weekly / monthly appraisals to the appraisee's
aspirations and values. I focus on these regular meetings and the
requisite skills and attitude. Lastly, your message hints at a
'top-down' command and control organisation? If so, there is a
danger that appraisals become another weapon in the war against
transformational leadership - which can elevate supervision and
appraisals to a creative and empowering process.

Michael Mallows


I led a team to design a performance management system for 6,500
staff. Part of this buy-in process was designed into the project
by inviting a range of people from the various functions and
levels to contribute to a Core Design Group. This group was
responsible for defining the principles that we wanted the new
system to help deliver. I made sure that this group had some well
known dissenters (I always find that there is a lot of good
nuggets in critical comments, if it is listened to with respect).
It took about two years, but there was a high level of ownership
of the new system. It was not done exactly as planned by all
staff, but the majority used it conscientiously.

Dr Norrie W Silvestro


I've faced this on several occasions with different organisations
and received comments along the lines of 'another form filling
exercise' and others like those you are experiencing. I have to
say that the directive-style way it's usually communicated does
little to help matters. This year I approached appraisal skills
training from a different angle. First of all I changed my
attitude towards the training. In the past I trained this as if I
was on a personal crusade to turn around negative attitudes! This
year I decided to concentrate on the surrounding management
skills that make appraisals effective rather than the process
itself. I ensured that managers who I anticipated would be
negative were sandwiched with ones I knew to be more positive.

Good luck!

Wendy Gannaway

To read the full responses, see

Maximising Return on Human Capital through an Integrated Learning
Strategy - 17/18 September 2002, The Cafe Royal, London. A
2-day conference dedicated to the training and development
professional with the aim of highlighting the role of training
and learning within your organisation by featuring case studies
from internationally recognised experts in the field.
Or call IQPC on +44 (0)207 368 9300

Any Answers Answered:
This fortnight, new responses have been added to the following

Q - I am trying to do a piece of work on understanding what are
the key things behind perceived low morale and motivation in my
workplace. Has anyone any suggestions on effective tools to
obtain this type of data and any advice on potential pitfalls?

Ian Habergham

(edited responses appear - see site for full responses)

A - Motivation and its group partner morale are very complex
issues to understand, despite what analysis you carry out, says
Rick Martin: 'I think it helps to study all the various generic
influencing factors and then decide how far the culture should
bend towards this whimsical/transient/fickle issue.'

To read the full responses, see

Q - I am set the task of implementing a managing conflict
programme in an academic environment and the trainees will be
academic and support staff. I am happy to develop a session
myself, but my knowledge is limited, and so would welcome any
ideas as to where I could start.

Katherine Mohamed

(Edited responses appear - see site for full responses)

A - Michael Mallows says: 'It may be that you familiar with
Logical levels - an NLP model developed by Robert Dilts (see site
for details). To effect change on any level, you need to go at
least one level above.'

A - I've found that it is relatively straight forward to get the
basics of what to do and what not to do in such situations
communicated to individuals, but it is the reality of
experiencing a situation that allows people to learn how to deal
with it. That comes down to role-play or similar, says Nigel

A - I would suggest you become familiar with the nature of
conflict being experienced or likely to be experienced to help
you focus on real issues, says Rick Martin. Then plan an event
which encourages the participants to understand:

1.The cause(s) of (such) conflict
2.What drives/escalates it
3.How it makes both sides feel
4.What the options are for handling conflict
5.What the best option might be in each circumstance
6.The skills to carry out the preferred option

A - A lot of training does not last after the end of the
session, because people's hearts are not touched, says Michael
Mallows: 'If people don't DO something different as a direct
result of the training process, they are more than likely to
revert to habit. Helping people to understand the impact of our
different 'maps', and how we might defend our own maps, myths
and models of Reality, is a good start.'

To read the full responses, see

Any Answers would cease to function without all those who
regularly share their knowledge and experience. If you've
benefited from receiving advice from an Any Answers question but
have yet to post a response yourself, why not do your bit by
responding to one of the questioners now at

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