East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) has significantly increased investment in leadership development for staff. Peter Cook, Associate Director of Innovation and Education, explains why.

Almost 400 staff have signed up for the Engaging Leader Programme

“With pressures across the NHS, it can often be difficult to find time and budget for staff training and development. However, in response to staff feedback, the Trust has introduced a wide range of initiatives to improve the skills and technical expertise of ESNEFT’s circa 12,000 strong workforce – from apprenticeships, clinical simulation, and virtual reality, to coaching support.

“Over the last two years an area of particular focus has been on developing our leaders. We want to invest in our people, but good leadership also has a cascading effect on everything else in the organisation. So far, almost 400 staff have voluntarily signed up for the Engaging Leader Programme, and we have trained 16 cohorts in 18 months with the help of NHS Elect.”

Benefits for staff taking leadership programmes

ESNEFT currently runs three formal leadership programmes, which are tailored to staff at all stages of their development – from new managers through to senior leaders. All the programmes are underpinned by the leadership attributes set out by the NHS and around 900 have benefitted to date.

For Peter, there are some immediate benefits for staff:

“The programmes allow people to take time out of their day jobs, to hopefully leave some of those stressors at the door, and have a chance to self-reflect and hear other experiences. When you’re spending multiple days together with colleagues, and having meaningful conversations about the issues you’re facing – it can be very cathartic.”

  • Bringing people from different backgrounds and disciplines together
    “Staff who take these programmes come from a range of different backgrounds and disciplines, from HR, Finance, IT to clinical roles. So, it gives people an opportunity to understand what issues their colleagues are facing, the demands of daily work, and how different people tackle those pressures. Fundamentally, it gives a more objective perspective.”
  • Building a lasting network
    “Programmes like these generate stronger networks across the Trust. It means when staff have an issue, they can turn to other people in leadership positions and get support.”

16 cohorts in 18 months

Sally Vaughan, Deputy Director who leads on the programme at NHS Elect explains what participants can expect: 

“The Engaging Leader Programme at ESNEFT is one of my favourite programmes to deliver. The organisation is so clearly focused on improving leadership development across all levels which is a brilliant investment in its people. This is the first time we’ve trained 16 cohorts in 18 months.

“The programme consists of three full day workshops. Day one looks at the concept of leadership and what behaviours we might want to emulate to be successful and introduces the value of diversity in teams. We all have our own personality or social styles and a good team needs to benefit from the strengths of these differences. Day two covers the building blocks to have a high performing team and the practical things we as leaders can do to support this. Day three looks at compassionate leadership, including how wellbeing is so important in how we lead people and how we look after ourselves. The sessions are designed to be engaging, practical and fun - we learn just as much from stories and experiences as we do from the theory and presented content.”

Making the most of your membership

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