London Ambulance approached TPC Leadership to support the Trust with a number of challenges which were broadly cultural. Having been founded in 1965, the people that London Ambulance served has changed dramatically since its inception and their employees no longer mirrored the population.
It was felt that a reverse mentoring programme would provide the senior staff, executives and board members with the knowledge of the lived experiences of the frontline/ground lever staff giving them a better appreciation of their day to day reality and ensure their voice was being heard.
Objectives / required outcomes for the client
The purpose of the programme was for senior leaders to gain a real insight into the experiences of the frontline staff and those closest to serving the population and support them to:
- Understand the lived experience of staff
- Identify some of the challenges that staff experience
- Form connections and understand the determinants of staff engagement
- Develop positive relationships
- Widen organisational knowledge
- Gain experience to inform their leadership roles and support a culture of continuous improvement
Reverse Mentoring is defined as the pairing of a younger, junior employee acting as mentor to share expertise with an older, senior colleague as the mentee.
The programme developed for London Ambulance by TPC Leadership was unique due to the fact it included training for both the frontline/ground level staff on how to be mentors and the senior staff were given training on how to be a mentee. This was identified as an important step given that the roles are reversed.
It was designed to enable the senior leader mentee to not come from their person, as opposed to their position of status. In doing so they could approach the programme with an ability to listen and immerse themselves in the day to day and accept the reality rather than trying to find solutions and fix.
Mentors were trained in mentoring skills helping them understand what a mentoring conversation looks like using the TGROW Model as a foundation. A significant emphasis was placed on encouraging the mentors to develop their own sense of leadership so they would feel comfortable sharing their experience with the senior staff and not default to the subordinate position.
The programme took place over a year with ten mentors and ten mentees. We kicked off the programme with an engagement day with London Ambulance where the parameters and boundaries were established and importantly the key topics the mentees were most interested in learning about were identified e.g. inclusion, the 111 line.
Prior to the mentoring relationships starting the mentors had 2 days learning how to mentor and the mentees had a day focused on how to be a mentee.
Once mentoring began there were regular group calls and face to face meetings to keep the momentum of the programme moving forward. A half day celebration closed off the programme allowing all participants to come together to share learning and celebrate success.
The programme achieved many positive outcomes for London Ambulance as an organisation and also the individuals that took part both as mentors and mentees.
As a result of the programme the participants on both sides (mentors and mentees) reported a better communication flow and improved cultural cohesion.
Involvement in the programme led to a change in their career thinking of many of the people involved and it also gave London Ambulance an opportunity to identify employees for development.
The programme was initially run as a pilot, based on its success TPC Leadership were commissioned to run the programme for a further two years.
If you’d like to learn more about reverse mentoring, take a look at the TPC Leadership blog. If you would like to discuss a reverse mentoring programme for your organisation contact us, we’d love to discuss your needs.