Mentoring the Next Generation of Talent
3 April 2017 at 8:47 am
Charity leaders are being given an opportunity to develop their skills with a mentorship program that aims to increase staff retention across the sector.
Recruitment agency Beaumont Consulting will this week launch its second LEAD NFP mentorship program which aims to facilitate “the next generation of talent” and help foster relationships across the charity sector as a whole.
LEAD – which stands for lead, empower, aspire and develop – was designed to give charity leaders a chance to learn from peers within the industry to build leadership, communication and decision-making skills.
Beaumont Consulting not-for-profit manager Kate Larkin told Pro Bono News they wanted to enable charities to provide quality training opportunities for their upcoming leaders and encourage them to stay in the sector.
“We recruit everything from reception right through to CEO, executive and board level, and one of the key challenges that we see a lot of the charities having is their ability to attract, but also to retain, really strong leaders in the sector,” Larkin said.
“While those leaders find their roles extremely rewarding, charities often lack the resources to fully develop and invest in strong, sustainable leadership capability.
“Our team has been set up as a non-profit generating arm of Beaumont Consulting so we actually recruit on a cost only model in terms of the fees that we charge and anything extra that we make we like to reinvest back into the sector.
“We saw there was a huge gap, where there wasn’t the sort of program offered to charity leaders to keep them in the sector.”
Beaumont launched the program last year offering 14 selected mentors and mentees the opportunity to complete the program at no financial cost.
Mentees from charities including St John Ambulance, Frontier Services, Benevolent Society, Cancer Council NSW, and Heart Research Australia were paired with mentors such as the CEOs of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Camp Quality and Variety NSW.
Larkin said the initial interest far exceeded their expectations so they decided to expand the venture and run the program again this year on a bigger scale.
“We weren’t, to be honest with you, expecting as much interest as we got,” she said.
“Last year we couldn’t afford to offer it to more than one group because we use an external professional organisation to run it that was fully funded by Beaumont.
“So this year what we decide was we wanted to do it on a bigger scale so we’ve crunched some numbers and worked out that if we charge just the mentees an annual fee of $499, with the same level of funding that we put into it last year, we can afford to have three groups running this year, which means we can offer it to 36 people.
“The hope is over the years we can potentially get other organisations involved in terms of sponsorship and grow it further but right now at least we’ve been able to triple in size after year two.”
LEAD NFP is run in conjunction with Leading Well Group, a business coaching firm and Australian corporate mentoring program specialist.
The 12-month program offers a mix of formal training, practical mentoring sessions and getting together with other members of the program to share experiences and learn from each other.
Larkin said the program was aimed at people who were already in leadership roles within charities.
“To be a mentee you must have at least 12 months experience within a leadership role and be currently working within a charity,” she said.
“We also stipulate in an ideal world that mentees not change their position voluntarily throughout the course of the program, because what we don’t want is people who are just using it as a way to network to move into another job.
“Then… we want to see what their motivations are, what they’re looking for from their mentor, what they’re looking to achieve from the program, what their career aspirations are and then we have a look at people who have applied to be mentors and… [say] well actually this person would be really well matched with [them].”
Mentees are matched with mentors through a matching committee with senior representatives across the industry taking part in the process.
Larkin said the feedback from the first course revealed that both mentors and mentees had developed their leadership skills and grown their networks within the sector.
One mentor said: “I am far better with my own team. I have picked up some great techniques. The penny has dropped for me in the way that I deal with others. I am a better listener. I have realised a few things about myself and my leadership style.”
Vanessa Fudge from Leading Well Group said the program had been a “resounding success”.
“According to the mentors, the best parts were the networking and sharing experiences and success tips with other mentors during the quarterly meets, the training and the networking opportunity with other senior peers, and getting to help shape their mentees’ success,” Fudge said.
“Overall the feedback indicates that the participants have benefited greatly from their involvement.”
Larkin said the program could benefit the sector as a whole.
“One of the main reasons you see people leave an organisation is they feel like they’re kind of stuck and that they’re not being developed,” she said.
“As a leader myself, I know, we would all love to be able to say ‘I’ve got all the time in the world to sit down with the talented people in my team and really talk through where they’re at with their career aspirations and what their looking to achieve and any issues they’re having,’ but we often get caught up in the day to day.
“What this does is, first of all for a charity to invest in sending a leader along to this, they’re telling them ‘we value you as a person, and we think that time spent developing that, which is time away from your day to day job, is a worthwhile investment’.
“From a growth perspective… it’s the age old thing of people don’t leave companies they leave leaders, so if we can develop the really strong leaders within charities… that is only going to lead to higher retention across the organisation, as people will be working with really a inspiring leader.”
Information about the program can be found on their website.