First steps for first time managers.

Learn how we created an award winning programme in partnership with Dr. Martens, to support the development of soft skill and leadership behaviours in their employees transitioning to a management role for the first time.


The sole (soul).

Focus groups had highlighted a need for training in areas such as people management, effectiveness and productivity; our solution needed to expand knowledge and skills in these areas, build confidence to perform this crucial role, and springboard to a successful management career.

Dr. Martens signifies rebellious individuality and the programme needed to match up. We designed the First Time Manager Development Programme (FTMDP), a truly blended, multi-modal, unique learning solution, offered by no other provider, calledBundleBoxBlend. It consisted of virtual classroom sessions, online courses, coaching calls, learning app quizzes and e-workbook activities to embed and apply their new knowledge within their day-today work environment. The design of this programme had maximum engagement and impact at it’s heart.

        Our award winning BundleBoxBlend formula with five blended components.

The aims of the programme were defined as:

  • Increased confidence in managers to build autonomy
  • Higher engagement and staff satisfaction within the team members managed by delegates
  • Increased efficiency and effectiveness within the teams managed by delegates

Engage. Embed. Support.

The main challenges Dr. Martens had faced previously were: learners seeing the benefits and buying in completely; learners understanding how to put skills learnt into practise, and embedding learning for lasting impact. Therefore, it was imperative our programme included pre/post course solutions, hence our three-pronged approach: Engage. Embed. Support.

Our award winning spaced repetition app MemoryBox.

Beforehand, we consulted end users about how they best learn and what they wanted to achieve from the programme. We undertook an instrumental pilot cohort that allowed us visibility and led to some minor but impactful changes for the overall success, including amending the regularity of the modules and replacing one of the skills modules.

In addition to technology being instrumental in virtual delivery, pre-course eLearning and interactive pdf e-workbooks, the most innovative element of the programme was the use of spaced repetition learning app, MemoryBox, to embed the learning for lasting impact. MemoryBox uses a fun, competitive and gamified approach that makes learners want to engage with the content. Better still, the scientific approach aimed at disrupting the forgetting curve helps increase knowledge retention by up to 33%.


The 6 topics were split into L.E.A.D.E.R modules: Leadership potential, Engaging people, Authentic communication, Delegating and motivation, Embracing conflict and Responsible leadership.

Overview of the programme modules, five blended components and flow.

The key principles covered within these sessions;

  • Leadership potential: transitioning into leadership (Noel Burch’s Conscious Competence model), the difference between a manager and a leader, situational leadership (Hershey & Blanchard), benefits of a coaching style.
  • Engaging people: emotional intelligence (Goleman’s EQ model), relationship management, stakeholder mapping, personal branding.
  • Authentic communication: communication principles (Dr. Mehrabian), adapting communication styles to suit others’ preferences, empathic listening (Covey’s Five Listening Levels).
  • Delegating and motivation: 9 steps to effective delegation, balanced feedback, structured feedback (AID model), employee needs (Maslow), motivating using autonomy, mastery, purpose (Dan Pink).
  • Embracing conflict: impact of the chimp brain and emotional triggers, conflict styles (Thomas-Kilmann), structuring difficult conversations, saying no, assertive disagreement.
  • Responsible leadership: time management and prioritisation (Eisenhower Matrix), work/life balance, building accountability and productivity in teams.
A selection of branded components from our Dr. Martens First Time Manager Programme.

As individual as they are.

In addition to classroom sessions, BundleBoxBlend included one-to-one coaching calls for personalised conversations with individuals to support their implementation of learning content and discuss challenges and opportunities.

During these calls, the structure of the programme itself was also reviewed to identify potential improvements or adaptions to support the learning process. One such adaptation that arose from these conversations was converting the printed post-session workbooks to digitalised e-workbooks, giving learners more flexibility.

As effective pre/post interventions were key to achieving the desired impact and return on investment, delegates were given access to relevant micro-elearning courses to gain a basic understanding of topics prior to virtual sessions.

Lacing up the programme.

Initial reaction and feedback received was resoundingly positive. Post-survey results demonstrated BundleBoxBlend achieved 100% score for: “course structure and delivery” and “course met my expectations”.

“The overall experience has been seriously helpful, I couldn’t recommend it enough.”

“Great experience, really benefitted from this programme.”

MemoryBox improved knowledge retention by 14% and the post-survey showed an 89% increase in “level of knowledge on topics covered”.

“Interactive, well structured, delivered in an engaging way with plenty of support material.”

“I found the content really interesting and have learnt a lot of things on topics I’ve never really experienced before.”

“Individual coaching calls offered were really beneficial to provide meaningful impact.”

“I learnt a new skill in every session.”

There was a 75% increase in managers’ confidence in their ability to manage and lead (moved from 25% confidence levels to 100%). Furthermore, the question “Helped me become more effective” scored 100% on the post-programme survey.

“I look at a lot of things differently to when I first began in this role. The delegation piece, trying to get the team to act for themselves. Communication and understanding that each member is different and thus has different capabilities and learning speed. Stepping back and analysing before acting – it’s all given me a huge confidence boost.”

“Embracing Conflict was so beneficial – as a woman in my late 30’s I was taught to avoid conflict, to be agreeable, and to find ways to accommodate others. Learning the Assertive Disagreement model has been a helpful tool for me”.

Our goal was to support first time managers in becoming effective leaders, fostering engaged, productive direct reports and driving results. Delegates have confirmed they felt more supported in the transition into their new role and feel better equipped to perform. Feedback and post-survey results prove that delegates, their managers, and our client have all been impressed with the positive effects achieved.

Line Managers:

“More confident and thoughtful when providing directions, asking open-ended questions to get direct reports thinking.”

“Reflecting on things rather than rushing to give answers. Adjusting ways of working to different team members to get best out of them”

“Definite uptick in their confidence and decision making as a result”

Global Learning and Development Lead:

Not the end of the road…

The post-course embedding, through completion of the interactive e-workbook and coaching calls (mid-programme, end of programme, 3 months after programme end) have been imperative and regularly used to ensure future success. MemoryBox remains in place to support continuous embedding of learning content.

Furthermore, the coaching approach used with delegates highlighted the advantages this learning style has, and it’s been reported they now take this approach in their management style to support the development of their own teams, widening the impact of the programme.

At a very reasonable cost per delegate for a solution comprised of five blended elements and six topics, a significant return on their investment was achieved.

The success of the BundleBoxBlend solution in this FTMDP has led to further cohorts being signed off and the programme is still running to date. In total this has equated to the development of over 100 Dr. Martens managers – a huge impact on the leadership culture within the organisation.









The 4Ps of Candid Conversations


The “Four Ps” model can help us to plan for a difficult or candid conversation so that both parties find it beneficial.

Learning Outcomes

  • Learn how to plan for a difficult or candid conversation so that both parties find it beneficial
  • Understand how to use the 4Ps to deliver a difficult message
  • Consider how this can help manage under-performance in a structured manner

Assertive Disagreement


When you disagree with someone, it is often best to be direct and clear, as it avoids an unfortunate misunderstanding. People can shy away from disagreement as it can sometimes feel confrontational. The assertive approach introduced in this module helps you to express your disagreement in a professional, constructive manner.

Learning Outcomes

  • Learn what assertiveness is
  • Learn a process to put your case across without getting emotional
  • Provide context for how to use the model in a real-world environment

Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument


Because no two individuals have exactly the same expectations and desires, conflict is a natural part of our interactions with others. This self-test assessment will tell you more about your predominant style of handling conflict and what this means.

Learning Outcomes

  • Provide a starting point for your development
  • Identify your conflict handling style
  • Learn about the five conflict handling modes

AID Feedback Model


Providing feedback that encourages open dialogue and communication enhances your credibility as both a teammate and as a leader. AID is a simple feedback model that can be used for positive moments and those that need corrective action.

Learning Outcomes

  • Learn a simple model for providing feedback
  • Identify your own role in each of the stages
  • Discover the benefits of creating a feedback culture

Action-Centred Leadership


Good managers and leaders should have full command of the three main areas of the Action-Centred Leadership model and should use each of the elements according to the situation.

Learning Outcomes

  • Discover John Adair’s action-centred leadership model
  • Learn how to adapt the model for your own work situation
  • Investigate the danger of becoming out of balance

Question Types


Asking the right question is at the heart of effective communication and information exchange. Using the right questions can improve a whole range of communication skills; the information we receive back (the answer) will depend very much on the type of question we ask.

Learning Outcomes

  • Learn why asking the right question is at the heart of effective communication and information exchange
  • Discover why the right questions in a particular situation can improve a whole range of communication skills

Dr. Mehrabian’s Communication Model


We are always communicating, even when we are not speaking. Other factors communicate what we really think and feel, which can be explained by looking at Albert Mehrabian’s communication model.

Learning Outcomes

  • Learn the impact of mixed messages when communicating
  • Understand that communication is a blend of words, body language and tone

Situational Leadership


Leaders need to tailor their approach based on the person they are coaching, their experience at the task and their level of enthusiasm for completing it.

The ability to adapt your leadership style to cater to different tasks and your people’s needs is called situational leadership.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership model
  • Recognise directive and supportive behaviours
  • Understand the four leadership styles in line with situational leadership
  • Understand the development levels of team members, based on competence and commitment
  • Become confident with flexing your leadership style to the individual and the situation