Speaking to other SBMs I’ve found that quite often they sacrifice their own CPD because they are very aware of their schools tight budgetary situations. This shouldn’t be the case but it just works out that way.
I’ve found that investing in mentoring is a great form of CPD for both the mentor and the mentee. Here we look at how the relationship can work well for both parties.
This doesn’t mean that only SBMs with 15 plus years of experience under their belts can be mentors. Each mentor/mentee relationship is unique and based on the individual experiences of both parties. When matching people together using @SBMMentors on Twitter I ask the mentee to give me an overview of what their experience consists of and to outline what aspects of the role they are looking for support with. This will differ from one SBM to the next.
The mentor is asked about their experiences and presented with the information about the mentee. Relevant experience is much more key than years and years of experience.
The best matches take into account what the mentee has specified as key areas of focus and how equipped the mentor is to support in those particular areas of interest. If you’re thinking of becoming a mentor, you can do a self audit to identify the key areas you could offer support in.
Do you have a particular specialism? Have you got wide experience in a particular area? Have you recently completed a course of study and could mentor someone through gaining a qualification?
Take charge, set the scene
It’s impossible to have a one size fits all approach to mentoring. At the start of the relationship the mentor needs to take charge and initiate the conversation with the mentee that will set out how the relationship will work.
This should cover things like frequency of contact – will you meet regularly, have scheduled phone calls or meet via video calls? One technique I have used in the past is to look at the aspects of the role that the mentee has identified and rate each one out of ten, thinking about how well the mentee feels they perform in that area.
This gives a starting point and allows for a plan to be formulated around each area. Look at what is needed to increase the score in each area. It helps to identify training needs and opportunities. Using this starting point you can set goals and identify review points along the way.
Honour the commitment
Having set the scene of how things will work, it’s imperative that the mentor honours that commitment. The mentor needs to be present but it must be a two-way street. A mentee should be making regular contact. That doesn’t have to be weekly but if a timescale is agreed at the start this forms part of the psychological contract you’ve made with each other. As a mentor you must challenge the mentee along the way.
This will steer the mentee to put the work in to meet the targets and goals they’ve identified with your help. The mentee will need you to challenge them, to make them stop and think about how they approach things and how they could do things differently to get improved results. Agreeing a series of dates to meet/talk is a useful thing to do at the start. It gives a chance to review and plan for next steps in the mentee’s development.
Nothing lasts forever
It’s often the case that mentoring is needed for a certain period in the mentee’s career. It’s important to acknowledge that the relationship is not a lifetime commitment. The mentoring relationship should start with a discussion around expectations.
Is there a specific event that mentoring is needed for, for example, submitting an ISBL fellowship application or completing an SBM qualification? Or is the mentoring need more around developing and supporting skills related to specific aspects on the role, such as developing financial skills for budget monitoring and reporting or support to become more strategic in your work. Don’t allow the relationship to fizzle out.
If it has come to an end then acknowledge that and part ways. It’s very fulfilling and satisfying to come to the end of mentoring period and be able to reflect on the successes.
Keep a record
You can use your mentoring experience as a CPD opportunity. Speak to your mentor at the start about your record keeping processes. How much detail do you record? What will you use it for?
Evidence of mentoring is a useful tool for evaluating your own development as a mentor and looking at how you’ve approached the task. Keeping records allows you to reflect on how you’ve developed as a mentor and also gives you the opportunity to put together case studies.
There are many aspects to mentoring and we’ve covered just a few of them. If you’re interested in mentoring you can look at @SBMMentors on Twitter or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Cheryl Campbell started her career in School Business Leadership in 2015 following a 14-year stint in Local Government. She has recently set up the Association of BAME Business Leaders in Education (ABBLed).