Co-pilot program
Details of Rocketium's voluntary peer support program

Background

Our March 2020 Open House was the first one after the pandemic-induced lockdown started. We had never experienced forced work-from-home before. Not to mention the human toll outside of our professional lives.
A few Open House questions were around the support that we could get and offer each other during these times. This gave us an idea to create Rocketium Co-pilot, a way for peers to help each other not just emotionally but in other areas that could help them be the best version of themselves.

Summary

  • Take-off - Voluntary participation for pilots and co-pilots
  • In-flight - Open agenda, structured catch-ups, continuous feedback
  • Landing - Pilots or co-pilots can stop when the time is right

How it works

Take-off

Someone seeking a co-pilot is a "pilot". They are the primary person responsible for getting the "plane" safely to its destination. Everyone needs outside help and perspective to get better so we encourage everyone to seek a co-pilot. Anyone can help others in this journey so we encourage everyone to be a co-pilot if they can. Neither pilots or co-pilots are limited by their department or seniority. However, participation in the program is voluntary. Not everyone is clear enough about their goals to seek help or has the time and skills to offer help.
To ensure a match between pilots and co-pilots, we ask pilots to fill out a 2-question survey (see below). If the requested co-pilots agree, then we match pilots and co-pilots to start the program.
Co-pilot survey form

In-flight

Pilots and co-pilots agree on a cadence and format for their discussions. We have seen weekly, biweekly, and monthly sync-ups. People do it in person, over the phone, or on video calls. We encourage doing this during work hours but some people prefer after work while others prefer weekends. The time and regularity depend on what both pilots and co-pilots are comfortable with.
The topics of discussion are broadly in the areas covered in the survey - friendly chat, industry knowledge, soft skill training, learning skills, or career guidance. The most common topics have been industry knowledge, career guidance, and soft skill training.
Both pilots and co-pilots take the sessions seriously to ensure success. Co-pilots share reading material or small projects that pilots can do between two sessions to put some of the discussion into practice. On the other hand, co-pilots also train themselves on the topic so whatever they share is useful and substantial.
There is also continuous feedback between pilots and co-pilots to ensure that these sessions actually add value.

Landing

Co-pilot sessions end for a few reasons - achieved objectives, no interest, lack of time. Obviously, the preferred outcome is the first one but we understand that not all projects can be successful. It is important to recognise when the sessions are no longer adding value for either participant and then taking corrective action. This can include ending the sessions.
Pilots and co-pilots go on to work with each other or someone else in the coming days because, ultimately, the program is to help each other be the best version of ourselves.