In 2018, the Elizabeth Casson Trust carried out a consultation exercise with a range of occupational therapists across the profession which led to the development of our leadership project (2018-2020). However, from these conversations, we also learned that occupational therapists want access to mentors. Occupational therapists are seeking individuals who can help them further develop their communication, influencing and impact building skills while also growing their personal confidence and power. This was an important message for us to hear and we set about exploring how to meet this need.
Since the summer of 2020 we have been developing a mentoring programme, selecting the best partner to deliver this and developing resources and tools. We hope that the mentoring programme will be a fantastic opportunity to support the development of occupational therapists so they become more confident, bolder and will take – or even create – new and exciting opportunities for the profession.
Our ambition is that the programme will offer practical support to occupational therapists – at any stage of their career – and create greater connectivity across the whole OT community that will provide real opportunities for the profession and for individuals to learn and grow.
In December 2020 we recruited a cohort of mentors; in January/ February we used the RCOT regional groups to invite OTs to put themselves forward for mentoring in the pilot and a cohort of mentor/ mentee pairs were formed. In March 2021 we launched the three-month pilot programme. The pilot was tailored to the needs and learning styles of both mentor and mentee, and was accessed via technology.
During the pilot, we supported the mentoring pairs with additional tools and ‘conversation starters’ that addressed some of the common themes highlighted in mentees applications – themes such as ‘confidence’, ‘story telling’ and ‘difficult conversations’. We supported those newer to mentoring with developmental sessions and were also on-hand to provide any ad hoc advice to mentors and mentees throughout the pilot.
The pilot ran until June 2021 at which point it was evaluated for benefit and impact.
The results of the pilot
At the end of the three-month pilot we sought feedback from participants via an online survey. Feedback was provided by 33 of our 34 mentors and 49 of our 54 mentees. We are delighted with feedback from the online survey:
- 100% of participants would recommend the ECT mentoring programme to a colleague in OT
- 100% of mentees felt that their mentoring relationship was successful
- 100% of mentees felt that the mentoring programme supported them to grow in confidence
- 100% of mentees felt the programme supported their career developmen
Through the feedback survey, mentors and mentees highlighted increased confidence, self-awareness, openness to exploring new ways of thinking, giving and receiving feedback, reflecting upon and understanding how to deliver personal growth and change as some of the key benefits. There were clear tangible benefits too with some mentees achieving promotion, getting approved to a Masters course, or changing tack in their career paths. We are particularly excited that 41 of our mentees are now willing to become mentors. This is critical as the success of our programme depends on our ability to attract mentors to our programme.
Read about the experiences of some our mentoring pairs in the case studies below.
The mentoring relationship
Why seek a mentor?
An individual may be interested in gaining greater insight into management and leadership practices and the ability to implement them confidently and flexibly, or perhaps interested in developing softer skills such as communication, teamwork and time management.
Why be a mentor?
While being the mentor in a relationship may sound like a one-way street for development, mentors also regularly report that their own communication skills are enhanced and that the investment they make in their mentee is returned in extended networks, greater insight into the challenges and opportunities available across the broader ecosystem and community, a sense of enhanced purpose and connection to their profession, and an opportunity to spot and nurture talent.
Interested in joining us?
If you are interested in becoming a mentor for our second cohort, please register here. If you would like to be contacted about mentoring in the future, please email us here. Be sure to add our address ([email protected]) to your contacts/ safe sender list.
If you are interested in becoming a mentee, please subscribe to our NewsBlast to hear when we are accepting requests.
If you would like to be kept informed about the mentoring programme, follow this link to subscribe to our monthly news emails.