Mentoring: Who do you think you are?

By Claire Knight
AVM member and mentoring scheme participant; Strategic Partnership Manager, Macmillan Cancer Support

When I was a child, this phrase was imbued with meaning far beyond its words.  What the adult saying it really meant was “you, young lady, are too big for your boots”.  It was intended to cut me down to size… the proper size, not the size I thought I was in that moment.  Which clearly, in their opinion, was TOO BIG.

I have recently changed jobs, and four weeks in I have found myself reflecting on where I am today.  It’s exciting. I am learning. I am contributing. But also, I feel unsure of what I am doing…was I too big for my boots when I put myself up for this job?  It doesn’t matter where we are on any ladder, being outside of our comfort zone is quite simply, uncomfortable.

The truth is, as we develop in our careers (and in our lives outside of work too), we evolve and build on who we are.  We don’t always know what we have in us until we put ourselves out there and try. We certainly don’t know what we will achieve in the future, or who we will become.  What’s important is to bravely step out of the comfort zone in the first place. The really great thing is that we can help ourselves and we can look to others for help too.

One such source of help is a mentor, someone who is more experienced, or “bigger”, we could say, than we are.  We know that they won’t laugh us out of the room. They can help us navigate our own learning through trial and error.  And the experience and perspective they have can provide priceless insight into our own situations.

Perhaps a less appreciated source of development is to become a mentor.

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I have had the privilege of being a mentor for two people in the past few years.  I’ll be honest, initially I wasn’t sure I had the skills or experience to do what it takes. In my head, a mentor was someone who had earned the right to be on that pedestal…a “bigger” person than me. But I like to think I made a difference to my mentees’ development in the time I supported them.  They have both moved on in their careers, that’s for sure.

Importantly, I learnt from the experience too.

I deepened my understanding of two specialised job roles; this broader perspective later proved helpful in securing a more senior position. I discovered who in my organisation could use their technical knowledge to help my team; this prompted me to experiment, measure and improve our web content. I improved my questioning technique to result in richer conversations; this helped me improve my line management skills and resulted in greater development for my own team.  I began to appreciate the ways my professional and personal experiences could be useful to others; this built my self awareness and confidence. Finally, on a personal level, I enjoyed getting to know two interesting, talented individuals.

In short, I am convinced that being a mentor helped me to develop in new ways, be better at my own job and ultimately to progress in my career.

The pilot mentoring scheme being developed now by the Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) is looking for people to become mentors. This exciting opportunity involves a matching process to help pair mentees with mentors, and comes with guidance, support and the chance to network with other mentors too.  

If I can share my mentoring experience with you, I would suggest it is not about being “bigger”, older or earning more. It is about having an enquiring mind and a fresh perspective. This could come from a simple difference such as being in another team, area of work, or position in a hierarchy.  If you are looking to progress your career, consider being a mentor. You would learn as much by giving as by receiving, I promise you. So go on….give it a go.

Simply tell us who you think you are and we’ll take it from there!

Edited: expressions of interest are currently closed. 

Building bridges: volunteering research and practice workshop

joint event logsWe are pleased to invite you to a workshop on volunteering research and practice, co-hosted by the Voluntary Sector Studies Network, Association of Volunteer Managers and the Network of National Volunteer Involving Agencies and supported by NCVO, on the 7th June 2018, 10:30-15:30, London.

The aim of the workshop is to bring together volunteer managers and researchers to strengthen collaborative working. We will share thoughts on: the state of the existing evidence base for volunteering; how research is used in volunteering management; and priorities for future research. The workshop will include brief presentations from some of the leaders in volunteering research and practice, but the emphasis will be on collaborative working through group discussions.

This is a free event but places are limited to one per organisation, and you must register to attend.

You can see the programme further details and register at Eventbrite.

Where does volunteer management belong? Tell AVM your views

AVM has been invited to be part of a conversation on 20th June with the Central London branch of CIPD about where the Volunteer Management function sits within organisations.

If you’re based in a team other than the People or HR directorate and you would be interested in sharing your experience about this long-standing debate, please get in touch with Ruth, AVM’s Chair.

This should be an interesting conversation, so watch this space for more information following the event.

Join the AVM Membership Team!

The Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) is an independent membership body that aims to support, represent and champion people in volunteer management across the UK. It has been set up by and for people who manage volunteers and has been growing for over a decade.

Our membership now stands at over 400 people across various fields, disciplines and sectors. Joining us ensures that those who manage volunteers are part of an active network of volunteer management professionals across the country, where they can give and receive support, exchange ideas and learn from each other.

Through AVM, volunteer managers have the chance to join together, speak with a louder voice, and influence volunteer management policy makers and funders.

AVM also runs a vibrant programme of learning events throughout the year, as well as our popular annual conference. In addition to the excellent discounts members on these events, all have the opportunity to contribute to or to lead various elements, enabling them to develop their leadership skills and strengthen their reputation within the volunteer management sector.

So, we are proud of the services we offer our members.

However, we also know we could do a lot to improve things. We think many members might not be fully aware of the range of benefits we offer, and we suspect our members have needs that AVM is not meeting.

Our Membership Sub-committee is made up of three Board Members and our Membership Administrator. We would like to invite our members to join us, to help us improve our services, and ultimately, the support and leadership available for volunteer managers across the UK.

We are recruiting to three volunteer roles, all of whom would form part of our Membership team. These roles are as follows:

  • Membership Development Officer
  • Membership Services Evaluation Officer (X2)
  • Membership Benchmarking Officer

All of these roles will be managed and supported by the AVM Director leading Membership services – Angela Wilson. 

If you would like to find out a bit more about any of the roles, you can contact Angela at: [email protected]

The closing date for applications is 27 April 2018.


Membership Benchmarking Officer

Membership Development Officer

Membership Evaluation Officer X2

If you would like to apply any of these roles please complete the form.

 

We’re off to the Charity Retail Conference!

AVM is proud to announce that we are delivering a ‘focus session’ at the most
prestigious event in the charity retailers’ calendar. The session, on Monday 25 June 3.15-4.15pm, will be delivered by AVM members and their charity retail counterparts.

The session explores how a shift in approach by organisations, leaders and managers can pay off at the till.

Balancing Time And Dollar
Time is money – Investing in volunteer time drives income

People remain keen to use their time to make a difference, but the demands on
this resource are increasing. Demos’s Shopping for Good report found that in
three years the number of retail volunteers rose only 4 per cent, whilst the number of shops continues to increase. If we all continue to shout louder about the benefits of retail volunteering, but people have more demands on their time, can we expect different results?

The aim is to speak to charity retail professionals about the challenges outlined above, and potential solutions we find at our own Retail Volunteering event on Tuesday 24 April.

The Charity Retail Association‘s event takes place at the East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham between 24-26 June. More details about the event, including how to book your place, can be found here https://www.charityretail.org.uk/charity-retail-conference-and-exhibition/

A limited number of discounted tickets for AVM and Charity Retail Association members remain available for our next AVM Learning and Development Day. These can be booked online.

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First AVM event in Bristol just announced

AVM steams in to Bristol on 12th June, aboard the SS. Great Britain , may God bless her and all who volunteer aboard her!  Click here to book.

This will be a specially reduced -price event, thanks to the support of English Heritage, SS. Great Britain and South West Museums Development Programme, and as an introduction to AVM.

Continuing our commitment to bringing AVM Learning and Development Days to some of the key centres of volunteer activity outside of London and following on from the exciting opening event in Manchester last week, AVM will now be in Bristol in June. This event will look at some new and innovative approaches to both traditional and new challenges in volunteering. This will include looking at attracting and working with younger volunteers: research clearly shows that actively engaged young volunteers are likely to continue volunteering throughout their lives, for a variety of organisations.

We will look at how research can be an excellent starting point for initiating change. It can provide the data and numbers necessary to convince stakeholders outside of volunteering departments of what those inside volunteering instinctively know already: volunteering is still a largely untapped resource. We will also consider how best to present this information to CEOs and other senior directors, and how volunteer managers can take the lead on convincing and converting boards to the true value of their volunteer departments.

There will be lively group discussions and networking opportunities to allow everyone to share their own opinions and experiences. Lunch is included, as will be a tour of the museum and ship at the end of the main L&D event.

 

 

Aside from his full time role at Barnardo’s and speaking for AVM, Roy Clark is also running in the London Landmarks Half Marathon on 25 March. If you wish to support Roy, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/roy-clark4

Finding a mentor…like going to the movies?

Soon after I joined the Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM) Board of Directors, the Chair, Ruth Leonard, rang me up to ask what I wanted to get out of volunteering, what was it that motivated me? I said I hoped to learn from the diverse experience of other AVM members: I wanted to progress in my career, and so it would be great to learn from others how they had gone about developing theirs. We then got to talking about mentoring, and how it would be wonderful if AVM could set up a scheme where members could learn from each other, much as I was describing.  Top volunteer management marks to Ruth: she had identified my own motivation, and matched it with a strategic aim of AVMs. Thus it was agreed I would lead the setting up of AVMs mentoring scheme, and use the learning for the search for my own mentor to inform and facilitate the project. Great! I was excited to get going. But where to begin?

Fortunately, I was not alone: fellow Director Jo Gibney agreed to join forces with me. So, we met, drank coffee, and did a lot of brainstorming. Jo also wanted to find a mentor…so we started by thinking about what we wanted to get out of it. Discussing it helped us to think through our aims, which made it easier to consider who might be a good person to help me to achieve those aims.Reading up on it, I found out that the mentoring relationship works best when there’s a high level of trust between both parties, and this is most likely to occur when the mentee chooses their own mentor. It should be someone with whom you are not too familiar (e.g. a friend) as you are unlikely to really be challenged in your thinking or to learn very much. Also the experience gap is important: if it is “too narrow, mentor and mentee will have little to talk about. If it is too great, the mentors experience will be increasingly irrelevant to the mentee” (Clutterbuck, D. 2014).

Where would I find such a person? And how would I make the approach? I felt quite awkward about the whole thing, it reminded me of the bashfulness I felt when I was in my late teens, about to ask a guy if he wanted to go to the movies! So it took me a while to work up the courage…

After a fair bit of umming and ahhing, I took a deep breath, and called a colleague I really respected in the volunteer management field, who had experience within the area I wanted to move into. It was great to catch up with him, and talk through some of my aims and hopes. In the end I sort of blurted it out – “would you have any interest in mentoring me…of course no worries at all if you can’t…” [in my head: “EEEEEEEEEK!”] sadly, this colleague had just changed jobs himself, and just didn’t have the time right now. Oh. Oh well, not to worry. I didn’t take it personally. Onwards!

There was one other person I knew who I’d thought for some time, would make a wonderful mentor, but I’d never plucked up the courage to ask. She was talented and very experienced, and probably very busy. I didn’t think I had much chance, but I thought I’d give it a shot anyway – nothing ventured and all that. And she said yes! I was more delighted than when the guy agreed to go to the movies with me. Having someone I really respected agree to invest their time in ME seemed incredibly generous: I was very grateful.

Meanwhile, Jo and I have been busy working up our ideas for the AVM Mentoring Scheme. We’ve been learning from others, designing registration forms and a project plan for how it all might work. We hope that the scheme will make it much easier for mentors and mentees to find each other and pair up.

Since just last week, 29 people have approached AVM to say they’d like to sign up as a mentor, mentee, or both…so we’re well on the way to making it easier (and a bit less like asking someone to go to the movies?!) for members who want to find mentors. We want to bring people together, both in person and online, and facilitate links between people in similar geographic areas. But those are just some of our ideas.

Expressions of interest are currently closed.

We are really keen to hear from AVM members who would be happy to help us shape the scheme and test out the tools (such as the registration forms) that we’ve developed. If you’re interested in getting involved, please do leave us your details here – we’ll get back to you.

Edited 16.03.2018

The power of listening…and of new boots

brown bootsBy: Angela Wilson, AVM Director

Returning to work following maternity leave, I realised I NEEDED to go shopping. I’d worn the same cosy, baggy jeans for several months, with my baby happily wiping her nose on whichever of my bobbly jumpers I was wearing that day.

The trouble was, it had been months since I’d bought myself new clothes, and I’d forgotten how to shop! Fashion had moved on and as I stared at the strange, oversized, bat-winged type coats, I realised I had no idea what I was doing, and felt rather lost and intimidated about the whole thing. Back-up was needed. I called my mates Lucy and Jos, and pleaded for them to help me step out of my mum-garb into a confident new look.

I knew I needed boots. Who doesn’t need boots. But which ones? Never one for stiletto’s, I like my feet firmly on the ground. But I’m also five foot three, so a couple of extra inches would be good. My hand hovered over a pair of brown, leather boots with a chunky two inch heel. Argh – there was that indecision again…would they look good? Now, Lucy and Jos aren’t afraid to say boo to a goose. They’re bolshy, opinionated, wonderful women who will tell you exactly what they think, which was exactly what I’d hoped for from them. However, on this occasion, they didn’t.

“What do you think, Ange?” asked Jos.

Slightly perturbed, I looked at my reflection and asked myself that question. Did I like the boots? Yes, I did…a lot. Confirming as much, Josie’s face broke out into a big smile, and she told me she thought they looked great too. Hurrah! They were a great first purchase.
Later on, enjoying my buyers-high, I mulled over the day. I was feeling much more confident about what I wanted and realised I didn’t need to wear enormous bat-winged coats to look good, I just needed to have confidence in the clothes I liked, and to choose clothes that made me feel good. Jos had helped me to remember this. And she’d done it in a really important way.

Instead of dictating to me what she thought looked good, she’d listened, and waited for me to find the answer in myself. If she hadn’t done that, I’d have ended up looking like a daft version of her (she’s far taller than me and a completely different body shape) and I wouldn’t have regained confidence in my own ability to find lovely clothes.

That, for me, was an important lesson. People often have the answers to their problems inside themselves, and only they can effectively overcome their challenges and find their own solutions. Other people telling them what to do simply won’t work, as what’s right for one, is not for another. When others can really listen, and help you to find those answers yourself, it can be a very powerful experience.

It’s the same in a mentoring relationship.

Great mentors respect their mentees and help them to find their own solutions: “to do the role well requires a capacity to hold back and allow people to learn for themselves” (Clutterbuck, D. 2014).

The Association of Volunteer Managers is setting up its own mentoring scheme, in the hopes of unleashing some of the powerful volunteer management skills, experience and knowledge that exists amongst our membership, helping to develop listening and leadership skills amongst mentors, and helping to progress the careers and personal development goals of mentees.

We would like members to help us to shape it and to road-test some of the early stage tools we’ve developed. If you think you would be interested in learning more about mentoring and participating in the scheme, and would be willing to help us to make it into a success, we would love to hear from you. Please leave your details here, and we’ll get back in touch.

Expressions of interest are currently closed.

Read about what we’re planning.

AVM Mentoring Scheme

With over 400 members and growing fast, the AVM network consists of a wealth of talented people with excellent skills and experience in the field of volunteer management and leadership. We know AVM members are often keen to learn from others and develop their skills and careers. To this end, AVM has great hopes of facilitating an exciting new mentoring scheme amongst its membership.

We hope that members will be able to develop their leadership and mentoring skills through volunteering as mentors for others, as well as gaining vicarious satisfaction through seeing others progress. We also hope that members will be able to learn from others and achieve their own personal development and career goals by signing up as a ‘mentee’.

We’re still in the early stages of planning this scheme. We have developed a project plan, and some of the tools we’ll need to make it work, such as registration forms. We’ve got to the stage where we have an idea what the scheme might look like.

So now we need your help. If you are an AVM member and:

  • have ideas about what might make this scheme a success, and/ or
  • would be happy to help us test our tools/ resources and feedback, and/ or
  • are interested in signing up as a mentor or a mentee

we would love to hear from you! Please leave us your details here, and we’ll get back to you.

Alternatively, if you have questions, you can message us directly. The AVM Directors leading the development of this scheme are Angela Wilson and Jo Gibney.

Not an AVM Member, but still interested? That’s great! We expect that we’ll only have capacity to offer this scheme to members, but if we know there is appetite from outside our membership we can explore ways of extending it. Leave us your thoughts here. Alternatively, you can always sign up as a member!

Retail Volunteering Event: Investing in volunteer time drives income.

24  April 2018 at the Crypt, London E1 6LY,  10:30 – 4:30

Click here to book.

Many charities run retail operations with varying degrees of volunteer involvement, but the Charity Retail Association (CRA) has identified a shortage of suitable volunteers and the importance of good volunteer management as key issues facing their members at this time.  With a huge and diverse array of volunteers, charity retailers face both unique and universal challenges.

This event will bring together a wealth of experience from both volunteering and retail. Hosted by Angela Wilson, Senior Advisor, Volunteering & Community Development at Barnardo’s, with Rob Jackson of Rob Jackson Consulting, Robin Osterley, Chief Executive of CRA, Liz Reed, Volunteering Business Partner at Blue Cross and Roy Clark, Director for Retail and Trading at Barnardo’s.

The event will look at how modern retail volunteers may be very different from the traditional image, and how retail volunteer managers need to understand the complex motives and aspirations of their volunteers in order to build the most productive relationships. From volunteers looking to improve their employability, to those combating social isolation, the range of expectations must be matched by an equally in-depth and engaging volunteer offer.

We will hear some examples of organisations responding to these challenges in innovative ways and how a successful approach can result in efficient and productive retail operations.

Balancing Time And Dollar
Time is money -Investing in volunteer time drives income

For more information or to book – Click here.

24 April 2018, the Crypt at Christ Church Spitalfields, London E1 6LY