Board Chairs of the Future - mentoring scheme: end of scheme report

Evaluation report for a mentoring project to develop a pipeline Board Chairs of the future for public bodies in Scotland from groups currently under-represented at Board Chair level. This covers the iteration of this project which ran from August 2019 to November 2020.

What has worked well

1. Regular workshops for mentors and mentees

The workshops facilitated discussion and allowed individuals to gain the most from the learning opportunities offered in them. Through feedback taken at these workshops, it was evident several of the partnerships became more productive and focussed as a result.

The workshops enabled mentees and mentors to focus and re-focus on their goal-setting and their learning and development plans. The workshops also gave opportunities for people to learn from each other's experience, and the approaches people have taken in different situations.

The workshops enabled participants to better understand the tactics, strategies and ways of chairing public bodies and conversely to explore what does not work and common pitfalls. The workshops provided a space for talking about the motivations and the personal rewards of the Chair role in public service.

In addition to the scheduled workshops which moved to online, two virtual coffee catch ups were held. These had been suggested by some of the mentees as a way to check in with each other and to provide the opportunity to share experiences with fellow participants.

2. Working across different public bodies

The matching process adopted has once again allowed learning for the mentor as well as the mentee, through working with someone from a different background and who serves on a Board in a completely different sector which therefore can bring a different perspective to the discussions. There was a greater diversity of public bodies involved in this iteration which has further increased the learning and knowledge of different sectors and participants valued this.

3. Supporting materials

Manuals were updated for both mentors and mentees using the lessons learnt from the pilot project. These manuals provided an overview of the scheme and offered tools and points of reference. The feedback from participants was really positive.

4. Learning

Chairs highlighted at the workshops and in feedback that they have benefitted from reflecting on their own practice. As a consequence, had the opportunity to reflect on their own learning and practice: 'reflecting-on-action' and 'reflecting-in-action'. For some this may have become second nature (unconsciously competent), or may have just been un-reflected upon previously as being part of their set of skills as a Chair in the dynamic environment of the Boardroom. For example, at one workshop, a couple of the Chairs shared that they had found the process at times challenging but useful to reflect on their own chairing style.

5. Scheme co-ordination

The scheme coordination and support was provided by Robert Boyter in the Public Appointments Team of the Scottish Government. Duncan Wallace, a mentoring coach, and Advisor for the Ethical Standards Commissioner led the development workshops. Participants valued the central coordination approach adopted for the scheme. This coordination allowed signposting and support to scheme participants when things didn't go as planned.

6. Timescales

The scheme ran for 15 months; this was an extension from the planned 12 months because of the Covid pandemic, given some partnerships were temporarily paused. This timescale suited most participants and allowed everyone involved to follow the operational and cultural change issues faced at a Board level over a period of time along with the challenges Covid has presented individually and for the work of the Board.



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