Paramedics are some of the most respected and most stressed professionals in our country. We were thrilled when the opportunity came to design and deliver a leadership development experience for the Australasian College of Paramedicine.

Context

Like many professions, individuals with ‘people skills’ and a natural proficiency for managing relationships are elevated to positions of management. Often this happens without any formal training in the leadership and communication skills that are critical in these roles. We designed and created the long-form, multi-session program ‘Technical Expert to People Manager’ to bridge this skills gap.

In 2021, the Australasian College of Paramedicine engaged Polykala to design a yearlong leadership development program for emerging people leaders working in Paramedicine across Australia & New Zealand/Aotearoa.

Approach

We designed a seven-part program for paramedics, focussing on Adaptive Leadership and communication skills to support the 15 participants to tackle the cultural and interpersonal challenges facing their frontline teams. 

The sessions focussed on:

  1. Adaptive Leadership
  2. Navigating Diversity and Inclusion
  3. Feedback & Difficult Conversations
  4. Negotiation
  5. Coaching
  6. Resilience & Wellbeing
  7. Peer Consultation

These frameworks and principles were always pressure tested by the realities of paramedic’s volatile shifts, COVID surges in 2021/22 and the daily unpredictability of their work. We recognised early on that this cohort would be each others’ best resource but they needed a shared language and process to tackle their adaptive challenges. The Harvard peer consultation process helped culminate this program to help each other find new ways of seeing and effecting change in their context.

During 2021/22, the sessions were delivered exclusively online. In 2023, after the peak of COVID had passed, we made the decision to hold the first and last sessions in person to book-end the program and build depth, connection and closure. 

Alongside the leadership development aspect of the program, participants were also matched with an industry mentor to work with them throughout the program. We worked with mentors to improve their coaching skills so they could draw the best out in program participants.

Outcomes

We are proud to partner with the Australasian College of Paramedicine to deliver this project. 

For a workforce that is under pressure to think fast and save lives, we were grateful for the opportunity to slow down and apply the Adaptive Leadership framework to the non-technical and non-clinical challenges they are facing, including organisational culture, enacting their values, strengthening team relationships and building resilience within the profession. 

We have now delivered the program to two cohorts of 15 participants each across 2021/22 and 2023 and look forward to the program continuing with a third cohort in 2024.

“It was a great process to go through. It can be quite a confronting experience to make constructive change. Hopefully Polykala remains engaged with the College. It was really engaging and thought-provoking.”

Program participant 2021-22

Client

Australasian College of Paramedicine

Year

2021 – Present

Number of participants

30

Number of sessions

14

Location

Sydney (NSW), Melbourne (VIC), Online