Mentoring in the Virtual Space for OD Practitioners

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Mentoring in the Virtual Space for OD Practitioners

For a number of years, the NHS Leadership Academy and DoOD have worked collaboratively to offer a national opportunity for OD practitioners, and those working in change and transformation to access an experienced OD mentor on a virtual basis.

With recruitment for the fourth cohort of mentors and mentees has just taken place, we took this opportunity to check in with Suzanne Douglas, Associate Director at NHS NWLA, on her experience as a virtual mentor and the ways in which virtual mentoring can support the 21st century public sector workplace.


How has undertaking the virtual mentoring programme enhanced your skills as a mentor?

I have developed digital skills and heighted my communication skills which complement existing skills required by a mentor in a face to face context. There is a greater reliance on communication, in particular listening skills, to build relationships in the virtual environment. I found that relationships developed at a deeper level and trust formed more quickly. The mentees’ perception was that the virtual environment provided a safe space to be honest about their experiences and reflect at a deeper level.

How can virtual mentoring support the 21st century public-sector workplace?

With increasing cross-organisational working, virtual mentoring can support in building and shaping knowledge and skills in a more accessible way. Holding mentoring within a virtual space breaks down barriers of geographical location and physical space with greater levels of impact.

What would be your top tips for others considering mentoring in the virtual space?

Trust that the mentoring process and your mentoring skills can be applied in a virtual space with the same and even greater impact for the mentee. Relationships can be built very successfully in the virtual environment with the same principles as face to face mentoring. The virtual space if framed in the correct way can be a powerful way to develop trust and create a space for connecting, exploring, challenging and sharing insights.

“ By far the best mentoring I’ve ever had – skilled curiosity, high level of deep listening and insight.”

Virtual Mentoring Participant – Cohort 2

The OD Virtual Mentoring Programme received well deserved recognition at the CIPD People Management Awards in 2018, as finalists in the ‘Best coaching and mentoring initiative’ category. Representatives from the virtual mentoring cohorts attended the award ceremony in September to celebrate the achievement and success of the programme.

To learn more about virtual mentoring, or to express an interest in being a virtual mentee or mentor, please visit the DoOD pages on the NHS Employers website.

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