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Edinburgh Researcher Develops Coping Training Programme for Management Trainees

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In an innovative new study published in Psychreg Journal of Psychology, Zhuofeng Li from the University of Edinburgh has designed a novel coping effectiveness training (CET) intervention to help new management trainees handle workplace stress more efficiently.

Li, with his practical experience as a start-up founder and a manager employed by international banking corporations over six years, observed that “an accountable percentage of management trainees might experience excessive stress particularly in their enrolment stage due to the overwhelming skillset acquirement.” He noticed that “some of them did not manage the changing responsibilities effectively,” leading him to believe that a CET intervention could be highly beneficial.

Rooted in cognitive behavioural theory, the programme teaches trainees to better manage their reactions to stressful scenarios. The training’s efficacy has been acknowledged across various high-stress environments like sports, military, and business, marking a significant step forward in management training techniques.

The CET intervention is based on the progressive COPE approach. The acronym stands for “Control emotion, Organise input, Plan responses, and Execute actions,” reflecting the programme’s emphasis on practical, cognitive, and behavioural forms of coping that mirror real-world environments.

Trainees are trained in a variety of coping techniques, including attentional control, thought stopping, mental relaxation, practice simulation, positive thinking, and seeking social support. These strategies offer a dynamic set of tools for trainees, allowing them to better control their emotions, manage their attention, maintain a positive mindset, and effectively plan and execute their responses to stressful situations.

The CET intervention, according to Li, is designed to enhance self-efficacy during the transition phase. He further underscores social support as a key element in enhancing job performance and encouraging the use of adaptive coping skills.

The effectiveness of the CET intervention is evaluated through a combination of initial interviews, post-training questionnaires, and manipulation checks. Manipulation checks, according to Hrycaiko and Martin’s 1996 methodology, assess the importance of coping with stressors, the acceptability of the intervention process, and trainee satisfaction with the progression of coping-skill mastery.

The Coping Self-Efficacy Scale (CSE-scale) questionnaire provides a measurement of an individual’s perceived ability to cope with life challenges, offering crucial insight into the changes in coping efficacy during the CET intervention.

Li’s study findings provide significant implications for the world of business, and particularly for new management trainees. With the CET intervention, trainees can mitigate stress and better adapt to their new working environments, leading to improved job performance and satisfaction.

However, the research is not without its limitations. While some coping techniques, such as practice simulation, have been maturely applied in other fields, their effectiveness in a business setting needs to be further examined. Moreover, the CET intervention remains at a hypothetical level. Li believes that “future research should consider implementing the programme and conducting longitudinal studies to follow up on its effectiveness.”

He also suggested, “future research might conduct a longitudinal study to follow up participants self-efficacy and stress coping effectiveness, and might consider applying the intervention to other working contexts like nursing, surgeon, rehabilitation, and so on.”

The implementation of CET intervention marks an exciting turning point in the development of cognitive and behavioural coping techniques. With further research and application, this ground-breaking intervention could reshape the landscape of management training programmes and significantly enhance workplace well-being and productivity.

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