Driving improvements with reverse mentoring

Tanoh Asamoah Danso

Staff from across our Trust are mentoring very senior leaders as part of an innovative project designed to provide a vital insight into their lived experiences and the challenges they face so that improvements can be made.

Reverse mentoring was identified by the BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) network as a key enabler for career progression and training for under-represented groups, to both maximise opportunities for development and improve retention of our talented staff.

The first phase of the initiative saw six members of the Trust’s Board paired up with operational colleagues to hear more about their experiences of working for EEAST.

Each reverse mentoring pair met virtually once a month, with the senior leaders taking forward actions following each session based on the topic of the discussion. Phase one mentors have all been members of our BME Network, however more staff will be given the chance to take part when the scheme is rolled out more widely later this year.

Nicola Scrivings, Trust Chair, took part in three sessions alongside Senior Paramedic Tanoh Asamoah-Danso, and described them as “incredibly powerful”.

“I have gained a huge amount from our reverse mentoring sessions so far,” Nicola said. “It has been incredibly powerful as it has helped me see our Trust through the eyes of another and to walk in their shoes. It has been a really useful way to get a different perspective and find out how colleagues elsewhere are feeling and what they think we should be focusing on.

“Tanoh has helped me enormously. We have discussed everything from inequality to recruitment and retention, along with his ideas for ways we could attract a more diverse workforce. I have already taken away actions from our meetings so that we can make some positive changes which reflect the views of our staff on the ground.

“I hope that this initiative will show that our senior team is open, listening and happy to have conversations with all of our staff so that we can work together to move the organisation forwards.”

Tanoh, who has worked for EEAST for the past six years and is based in West Essex, said: “I have really enjoyed the experience, and feel this is a valuable initiative which has come at an important time, both in society and the direction the Trust is going.

“It has given me the chance to share my views from the frontline with someone who is high up in our organisation and able to make changes. Its vitally important as it gives senior leaders at the top a better understanding of their staff and what is happening at the bottom.

“I would absolutely encourage others to try reverse mentoring as it gives you a chance to have your voice heard directly by a senior leader. It is an opportunity for a one-on-one dialogue which resonates louder. Because it is personal, it gives the person in the position of leadership more onus to do something about what is being said.”

Anyone who would like to find out more about the scheme or register an interest in taking part in the second phase, which is due to take place later this year, should contact Selina Lyons who has been leading the project for EEAST as a member of the BME Network member.

Published 28th January 2021