More for less with an LMS

How can you be an effective, innovative learning practitioner when you’re a one man band? Eleanor MacKenzie, from The Church of Scotland, has found that streamlining administration using a learning management system (LMS) frees her up to focus on business and learner needs. She explains how she launched a new leadership development programme, supported by an LMS.

There was a clear business need for leadership development at The Church of Scotland:
  • Good leadership and management was required to support the Church through a period of radical restructuring and reform
  • Staff needed help relating new organisational values to their jobs – and managers needed the skills to support them
  • While a great asset, low staff turnover at the charity was a challenge in a time of change when new thinking was required
  • Post-Covid, new skills were needed to manage hybrid working
  • Leadership development had been largely overlooked

Member fact file:

The Church of Scotland has been a member of the Charity Learning Consortium since 2017 and uses both the learning management system and eLearning that we provide.

Planning and pilot

Developing a leadership and management course took Eleanor MacKenzie, Learning and Development Officer at The Church of Scotland, around six months. She then trialled it with eight people, with a cross section of staff from across the organisation. Delegates included an aspiring manager, a new manager and a deputy head of department, along with someone who had been at the organisation for a long time. 

Along with the Chief Officer at the Church of Scotland, Eleanor popped in regularly to speak to delegates to assess how things were going as the course was in progress. She combined what she heard with feedback from the tutor and evaluation data from attendees. Overall, the programme has been a great success, as this sample feedback shows:

‘I intend to start using what I’ve learned on the course frequently with my staff. Particularly because it means stating all the good aspects of the work they have done, and there is a lot of that! It is only too easy not to say anything because there is no problem to deal with. I feel lucky and privileged to be their manager and I want to be supportive of their development.’

“L&D can be infectious if you’re enthusiastic about it!” says Eleanor.

The programme  The leadership and management development programme that Eleanor created consisted of: Part one: A face-to-face two day course focused on theory with discussion. Delegates are introduced to different leadership styles, explore emotional intelligence and are asked to make personal commitments. Everything is aligned to The Church of Scotland’s values, policies and procedures.  Break: A few days to reflect and start putting theory into practice. Part two: Two face-to-face, interactive days – a chance to review commitments, ask questions and practise. Topics include feedback, wellbeing, motivating staff and hybrid working. Part three: Hybrid line manager surgeries to keep development going within the leadership and management group. These action learning sets also include looking at coaching skills and how to turn commitments into actions.
Using the LMS The learning management system (LMS) provided by the Charity Learning Consortium has been integral to delivering and driving this ambitious new programme. On the LMS delegates can find:
  • A welcome message and overview of the new course
  • A flyer describing course content and learning outcomes
  • Information about the tutor, with a link to their LinkedIn profile
  • Dates of upcoming courses with online booking – Eleanor has customised automated confirmation emails
  • Links to supporting eLearning provided by the Charity Learning Consortium, such as  Leadership, People Management and Operational Management 
  • A link to the Clear Lessons video learning library
  • A managers’ toolbox, which includes links to CIPD resources
  • eBooks, created by Eleanor within the LMS as a more user-friendly resource than PDFs. These are useful for displaying information on policies
  • Links to further organisational policies and procedures
  • Details of follow-up line manager surgeries/focus groups 
  • Course evaluation, with five multiple choice sections as well as boxes for personalised answers. Results are analysed by Eleanor within the LMS.
  • Shortcuts to individual learning plans are also in the pipeline
“I’ve tried to use every aspect that the platform offers to tailor it into something that we need organisationally, and that people can access really easily,” explains Eleanor.

Line manager surgeries

The idea for using action learning sets to continue leadership and management development was sparked by a presentation and discussion at a Charity Learning Consortium members’ meeting that Eleanor attended. The plan is to get delegates together in a hybrid way, to focus on topics such as appraisals. 

She’ll be encouraging delegates to share what’s working – and what isn’t – as well as finding out what extra resources might help them. This responsive support is backed up by resources on the LMS, such as eLearning, eBooks and videos. Eleanor is also now planning on creating specific topic-focused learning pathways as well. 

“The LMS is a great tool for creating holistic courses. When you start understanding its potential – even if you’re a one man band like I am – it’s a ‘Eureka’ moment. Despite the fact that I’m limited in what I can do, I can offer far more using the LMS. I’ve astonished myself with what I have achieved.”  

About Eleanor MacKenzie

Eleanor MacKenzie is the Learning and Engagement Officer at The Church of Scotland. 


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