Building capacity for change: evaluation of an organisation-wide leadership development program

Tim Schultz, Jodie Shoobridge, Gill Harvey, Libber Carter, Alison Kitson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: This study evaluated Leading 4 Change, a change leadership development program designed to support healthcare middle managers through a period of significant organisational change and enhance workplace resilience. Methods: A mixed methods evaluation was conducted within the program's framework of a quality improvement activity. Quantitative measures were participant responses (n = 160) to online questionnaires, which were compared before and after the program, using an uncontrolled pre-post study design. Four questionnaires were used: Resilience @ Work, General Self-Efficacy, the 11-item Learning Organization Survey and organisational climate. Differences between the pre-and post-program periods were compared using linear mixed-effects models, incorporating repeated measures between 'pre' and 'post' periods. Qualitative data were obtained by interviewing four participants on three occasions during the program, and through text responses provided by participants during a presentation session after the program finished. Both interview data and textual data were subjected to thematic analysis. Results: Integration of data from quantitative and qualitative analyses generated three main findings: (1) participants were satisfied and engaged with the program, which met their learning objectives~ (2) the program led to increased workplace resilience, in particular the ability to manage stress and self-efficacy for individuals~ and (3) organisational learning perceptions were unchanged. Conclusion: Although conducted during a period of intense internal and external pressure, Leading 4 Change led to demonstrable effects. It effectively engaged middle managers across a health system. However, there was no evidence that the effect of the program extended beyond individual participants to their perceptions of their work environment as a learning organisation. What is known about the topic?: Although much has been written about change management and change leadership within healthcare, the failure to manage the 'people' element and engage employees hampers the success of that change. However, how to engage employees and enhance their resilience and self-efficacy (self-belief to proactively manage) during change has been little explored. Further, the concept of a learning organisation has been developed in private, non-healthcare fields and there is little known about it in other areas, such as healthcare, particularly during change. What does this paper add?: The paper describes the evaluation of a 16-week change leadership development program (Leading 4 Change) for middle managers of a public health system undergoing significant reform. It assesses how the program engaged employees, and how and to what extent their workplace resilience, self-efficacy and perceptions of their workplace as a learning organisation changed after the program. Based on the present study, individual development of staff does not necessarily translate directly to better staff perceptions of organisational outcomes. What are the implications for practitioners?: Despite being clearly engaged with Leading 4 Change, quantitative and qualitative measures suggested mixed effects of the program on participants. Participants' self-rated workplace resilience, ability to manage stress and self-efficacy increased after the program. However, there was no evidence that the effect of the program improved staff perceptions of their work as a learning organisation. For complex public sector healthcare organisations to become learning organisations, other organisational factors, in addition to staff development and training, require consideration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-344
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Health Review
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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