People and Leadership
Sellafield is Europe’s largest nuclear site and employs more than 11,000 people. In partnership with EY Lane4, the firm’s leadership development business, Sellafield launched a virtual programme for its leadership community in 2021. A previous version had been rolled out in 2019, which had offered a mix of face-to-face sessions and online learning. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the programme was paused, evaluated and, within a matter of months, redesigned to be delivered virtually. Content was also added to align to the organisational manifesto and newly introduced leadership standard. The ambition of the new leadership programme, called LEAD, was to create a high-performance culture to give leaders the toolset, mindset and skillset to achieve its mission of making Sellafield safer, sooner.
The immersive and engaging programme had the ability to change the organisation for generations to follow and quickly became transformational for leaders and their teams who were battling the day-to-day challenges of life during a pandemic. But for the programme to achieve its goals, it had to overcome major challenges such as cynicism in the leadership population due to previous programme failures, and the lack of a single technology platform for Sellafield employees to access remote learning.
EY Lane4 created a programme that continued to offer the experiential and high-impact elements from the previous face-to-face programme yet delivered in a fully virtual capacity. While the LEAD programme is still ongoing, it is already nurturing the next generation of leaders. Moving the programme online has already proved invaluable in breaking down organisational silos (allowing individuals across multiple geographical regions to interact) and driving significant sustainability improvements (reduced travel time, costs, and printing demands). Overall, the programme has:
- Developed a consistent leadership language, mindset and behaviours within the leadership population, challenging leaders to think and act differently – immediately benefiting Sellafield’s 11,000 employees and giving them the tools to problem solve at speed
- Delivered live and interactive sessions where leaders could role-play new communication techniques and offered a safe space to allow people to connect and communicate with one another at arguably one of the most challenging times to be a leader
- Created a vested interest to challenging leaders to think differently through setting personal and team objectives
- Boosted interaction across divisions, creating new relationships and increasing the opportunity for collaboration across the organisation
The learning journey offered multiple virtual interactions and leaders have become more proficient with technology, many citing the engaging and interactive learning experiences (including virtual escape rooms) as a programme highlight. One of the immediate benefits of the virtual programme was the mixing of cohorts from different business and geographical locations. This has broken down silos and supports the ‘we are one team’ ethos in the organisation’s manifesto. Certainly, the feedback supports this. So far, over 1,650 leaders have completed the Virtual LEAD programme – with 1,200 more Band 3 leaders due to complete it this year – and 96% agreed that the programme has been applicable to their leadership needs, priorities and tasks while 91% agreed or strongly agreed that the LEAD programme has been a worthwhile business investment.
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