Background to the Project

In May 2002, Responsive Management Australia won the contract to design and deliver training programs to up-skill WorkCover Queensland employees on the effective management of difficult customer situations and critical incidents.

We were selected as the successful tenderer for the training and development contract on the basis of our initial proposed design and our previous experience in the delivery of similar training for numerous other public sector and corporate organisations. These organisations include Queensland Department of Housing, Public Trust Office, Department of Public Works (QBuild), Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Queensland Building Services Authority.

Data Collection and Program Design

In the formal design phase, consultation took place with senior management within WorkCover and our consultants visited five (5) WorkCover offices and interviewed and collected data from relevant staff groups.

A Draft Design was then completed and pilot programs were conducted. A progressive roll-out followed with on-going evaluation and re-drafting where necessary.

Program Delivery

Over 640 WorkCover employees have participated in the training programs in the period between July 2002 to November, 2003 in 60 separate programs conducted in WorkCover offices throughout Queensland.

The WorkCover Queensland project was conducted in a two-phased approach:

Phase 1 Specialised Training for WorkCover “Response Teams” for Dealing with Critical Customer Confrontations.

Phase 1 was a three day training and development program designed for newly established “Response Teams”– that is, teams of Managers and Supervisors responsible for supporting staff to attempt to ensure their safety and to continue to upgrade their skills to deal with hostile/aggressive and distressed/suicidal clients. Phase 1 includes skills training in Workplace Coaching and Mentoring for WorkCover staff.

Phase 2 Specialised Training for WorkCover Staff in Dealing with Critical Customer Confrontations

Phase 2 was a two day training and development program designed for front-line WorkCover employees – Case Managers, Assessors and Insurance Officers - to develop their skills in dealing with difficult customer situations and critical incidents and understand the roles of the “Response Teams”.

Participant Feedback and Evaluation

These practical, skills-based programs have received excellent feedback from participants. Being tailor-made for WorkCover, participants found the programs to be highly relevant and appreciated the opportunity to explore workplace specific examples and issues in detail.

In particular, participants valued the opportunity to learn and practice many practical new skills and strategies for dealing with difficult client behaviours and critical incidents including:

  • using assertive communication and empathy to defuse hostile/aggressive behaviours;
  • learning to better manage their own reactions and emotions during and after dealing with critical incidents;
  • understanding and practicing various problem solving techniques;
  • improved understanding of suicide and self harm risk factors and specific strategies to use with clients exhibiting these behaviours.


Some Feedback from Participants...

What did you like most about the Workshop?

"Very practical and relevant to my position. I feel a lot more confident in managing my own emotions/anxiety levels and communicating with customers "

"The size of the group, being small, was a real benefit. I learnt a lot of things that are necessary in my day to day job."

"The fact that it went into detail and listed the necessary skills in order to deal with matters."

"Discussing examples and how different people dealt with them. Seeing everyone learn from the course."

In particular, which of the topics, or sessions, did you find to be most valuable?

"All of them - I learned a lot about myself that became surprising - both positive and negative. This has helped both my professional and personal life. "

"Learning what not to say, in order to keep the situation from becoming more volatile."

"The whole course was valuable but in particular how to handle disgruntled or aggressive clients and also suicide threats."


Comments about the Course Presenters ...

"The presenters understanding of the Company. Good skills utilised to explain difficult topics."

"(The Presenter) was very good. She is very knowledgable and organised with her training. It also shows WorkCover cares about us."

"The presenter made me feel welcome and encouraged participation. I was able to tap into/build skills to assist in my career and personal life."