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Header image for the current page Developing a leadership development programme for UHCW

Developing a leadership development programme for UHCW

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As part of its commitment to and investment in developing healthcare leaders, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust commissioned Arden & GEM’s Leadership and OD team to co-design and deliver a new leadership development programme.

Through a robust and inclusive approach to co-design, which brought together specialists from Arden & GEM with representatives from teams and functions throughout the Trust, a course was developed which synthesised leadership theory with practical implementation.

The 12-month leadership development programme has now been delivered to more than 150 participants, with an evaluation approach to measure both learning and organisational impact in place.

The challenge

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) is one of the UK’s largest teaching trusts, delivering over 800,000 episodes of care annually from hospitals in Coventry and Rugby.

With 8,700 staff, the Trust is committed to investing in leadership development. As part of this commitment UHCW has invested in two dedicated programmes; ‘Leading Together’ and ‘Lean for Leaders’ which have seen more than 1,000 participants. To build upon these programmes, UHCW wanted to refine the content and delivery method to maximise the impact of improved knowledge and learning, evidenced by recognisable change.

The Trust needed an organisational development (OD) partner to design and support delivery of a bespoke leadership development programme which would:

Our approach

Arden & GEM’s Leadership and OD team was commissioned to work collaboratively with the Trust’s internal teams to co-design a programme which would meet the evolving needs of both the organisation and its leaders.

Orientation and observation
As a key objective was to build upon existing leadership programmes, one of the first activities was to gather data from previous participants of these programmes using online questionnaires and small focus groups. Supported by the CSU’s advanced analytics unit, this research explored a number of themes – including psychological safety and logical levels – to provide a clearer picture of what needed to be done to develop new leadership behaviours and a leadership culture across the organisation.

Co-design process
A true co-design approach, facilitated by Arden & GEM, was taken to designing the programme, bringing together organisational development specialists from
the CSU with UHCW’s learning and development, organisational development and Lean teams.
This co-design group engaged with other staff from the Trust, including service and team leaders representing different hospital functions, to encourage ideas sharing and shape and refine the programme.

By harnessing different lenses, perspectives and expertise, the design group was able to capture strengths from the existing programmes and blend these with the latest thinking in leadership development, and best practice in delivery methods and content. As a consequence, course materials were developed which synthesised leadership theory with practical implementation while the design group continued to work collaboratively and challenge each other’s thinking

Delivering the programme
The resulting programme content was designed to be flexible, with materials that could be framed and adapted to respond to the needs and styles of a particular cohort. This flexibility also enables the programme to be tailored to needs driven by external events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

An iterative process, which is fed by both participant feedback and evolving organisational need, helps to keep participants engaged and focused throughout the duration of the programme.

In addition to facilitating the first cohort of participants, the Arden & GEM team has co-produced materials which now support programme delivery by in-house facilitators. Acting as a ‘critical friend’, the CSU has helped to balance the views and interests of different facilitators, including NHS Elect who have designed and delivered the two residential elements of the programme.

Measuring impact
A two-part approach to measuring impact was implemented covering:
1) An evaluation of the programme and its impact on the organisation
2) An evaluation of participant learning.

To measure organisational impact, the team worked collaboratively with in-house resource – with expertise in Lean and an academic background – to design the evaluation approach.

The outcomes

Through a robust and inclusive approach to co-design, a 12-month leadership development programme has now been delivered to more than 150 participants, with the first cohort completing the full programme in September 2022.

An evaluation of participant learning was built into the final module of the programme, in the form of a series of feedback sessions and a reflective project to demonstrate application of technical learning and leadership thinking.

Project presentations were delivered by participants at a closing workshop to explore their use of Lean methodologies, leadership thinking and shifts in behaviours and mindset.

"Over a 14-month period, Arden & GEM worked collaboratively with the internal design team where they were able to quickly grasp the strengths, constraints and challenges. They attended to developing productive working relationships with the design team and worked at a pace that matched our internal working rhythm.

Inevitably, as a design team we faced challenges through the iterative process and Arden & GEM facilitated the co-creation of a safe space for the design team to have divergent perspectives, manage tensions, discuss and debate to arrive at an outcome that we owned. The injection of ideas, expertise, challenge, and nudging was valuable and much appreciated. Anecdotal feedback from participants indicates that the development is meaningful; provoking reflection and encouraging continuous development as a leader."

Rajni Martin, Organisational Development Manager at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust