As an organisation which aims to support and challenge our young people to achieve their fullest potential, it makes sense that we also have those aspirations for the staff who come to work for us. The organisation’s investment in mentoring is helping to discover rising talent, to enable the transfer of vital knowledge, skills, and experience and supports personal and professional growth in individuals to become future managers with the necessary skills and attitude to succeed. Jen Slade, an experienced and long-standing registered manager with BMC considers her role as a mentor and recalls the guidance and encouragement of her first trusted mentor in BMC.
There is a long-standing culture of mentoring in BMC, one which expects the most experienced staff to be culture carriers on teams, and to support new staff to find their feet and begin their development as Care Practitioners in this rewarding work. As a Registered Care Manager, managing the team around a young person, I have an informal mentoring relationship with all of my staff, and with some, I may take a more formal mentoring role.
All Care Practitioners receive monthly supervision with managers. This is an individual session with the manager to provide support, feedback, direction and the development of the member of staff in the context of their work. Supervision may be a part of the mentoring relationship, but it is also distinct from it.
A mentoring role is reciprocal. I get a great deal of personal satisfaction from seeing my team develop in both their theoretical understanding and in their personal confidence to undertake the role. An informal mentoring role may be thought of as my personal ongoing investment in the growth of each of my team. I bring my enthusiasm, skills and knowledge to that relationship, and I also bring a genuine belief in their ability to overcome obstacles, learn new skills, change long held beliefs, let go of insecurities and find depths of resilience they may not have known they had. My work with them says, ‘you will achieve this because you have it within you to do so.’
I may also undertake a more formal mentoring role. An example of this would be my work in developing my deputies. Deputies typically step up from the Senior Care Practitioner role, although they are sometimes brought in through external recruitment. The deputy role holds a great deal more responsibility than the Care Practitioner role, which can be daunting at first, plus it is usually the Deputy’s first experience of holding management responsibility for other staff. My task, over and above my supervisory role with my deputy is to help them to develop the personal skills and the requisite knowledge and experience to eventually run a home of their own.
In my experience, new deputies are expecting to develop their skills and knowledge, but have not anticipated just how much personal development is necessary to suit them to run a home. At the outset of our mentoring relationship, we will look at all those areas where a deputy may need to gain knowledge and experience and make a plan for how she or he will gain these. We monitor and review this throughout the timeframe that we have, to make sure the plan is effective in giving my deputy what he or she needs. As this is a reciprocal relationship, my investment in them is returned in the skills they bring to the running of our home, the development of our team and the progress of our young person. The more successful a mentor I am, the greater the rewards for us all.
Once my deputy is ready to run their own home, I will support them to make the application, and, if they want this, throughout the move. Once this is done, we remain in contact while they find their feet, although by then they will be managed by their regional head of care. Meanwhile, in my own home, a new Deputy will be taking on the role, and a new journey of mentorship begins.
I have been fortunate in my mentors throughout my career with BMC. My first mentor was a woman called Coral Bury who was a Divisional Director of BMC. I grew as a manager and as a person under Coral’s mentorship and I will always be grateful, not just for the things she taught me, but for the belief that she had in me. The mentor I am for my team is directly related to the way she mentored me. The belief I have in my staff’s ability to succeed is directly related to the way she saw something in me before I saw it in myself. For me, this is the best of BMC, it’s what we believe about ourselves – Inspirational People, Aspirational Outcomes.