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News from City, University of London

Centre for Performance at Work publishes new political mentoring toolkit

New toolkit published by Prof. Jo Silvester and Dr Christine Menges
by Hollie Jenkins

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Academics working within the Centre for Performance at Work at City University London have published a new political mentoring toolkit. The booklet, which is available online for free, is the first of its kind offering political mentors and mentees clear guidance on how to work together to improve skills and effectiveness.

Since 2006 the national Political Mentoring Programme hosted by the Local Government Group has established more than 300 mentoring arrangements between elected members in local authorities across England and Wales. This programme, which involves political mentors providing peer support and advice to their political colleagues in other local authorities, has proven to be widely successful.

The new toolkit is based on a research project focusing on political mentoring and effectiveness jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Local Government Group. The project involved interviews with 62 politicians who were mentors or mentees and a survey of 215 elected members and officers.

Jo Silvester, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Centre for Performance at Work at City University London says:

"Often politicians enter their roles from a variety of backgrounds and roles, not necessarily linked with the political sector. For many, entering the political arena can be a daunting process. There is also very little support for more senior politicians taking on leadership roles or for those with new responsibility for portfolio areas.

"Furthermore, political roles are becoming increasingly demanding, stressful and complex. Mentoring is an important way in which elected members can acquire the support they need to build political confidence and improve their performance. Our research found that mentoring provided a confidential, supportive space for politicians to discuss their learning needs and share experiences with colleagues. It also provided an important vehicle for inter-organisational learning across local government.

"Through this new free toolkit we are providing political mentors and mentees with examples of best practice, from our research, and information about how the mentoring process can work to effectively improve political leadership skills."

The booklet includes guidelines on setting up mentoring arrangements, tips for getting started, how to develop a mentoring plan as well as checklists, useful tactics for mentors and goal setting templates.

The toolkit is available online here.

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