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Shadowing and mentoring

Offering shadowing or mentoring opportunities can help potential candidates get a better feel for public appointments. It can also encourage them to apply.

Shaping the boards of tomorrow

“Public bodies need to consider the types of people that sit on their boards, and whether they are representative of the wide society that they serve. Not being ‘board ready’ can often be a barrier to appointment. Mentoring schemes provide an excellent opportunity for talented individuals to progress towards being ready to serve on a board.”

Rt Hon Peter Riddell CBE – Commissioner for Public Appointments.

Mentoring initiatives

NEW: In December 2020, the Cabinet Office, Public Chairs Forum and the Commissioner for Public Appointments launched the first HM Government public appointments mentoring scheme. You can read more about the scheme and the launch on the Commissioner’s blog.

In February 2019 the Commissioner hosted a session on mentoring in conjunction with the Public Chairs Forum. Speakers were invited from three different schemes to talk about shadowing and mentoring, and take questions from Chairs of many regulated public bodies.

Links to the website of each organisation and slides from their presentations can be viewed below.

Olmec Black on Board logo
OLMEC – Black on Board website

Shaping the Boards of tomorrow presentation (PDF, 15 pages, 1MB)

NHS Improvement logo

NHS Improvement NExT Director Scheme website

NHS Non-executive development presentation (PDF, 13 pages, 95KB)

Board Room Apprentice logo

Boardroom Apprentice website

Shaping the Boards of Tomorrow presentation (PDF, 2 pages, 947KB)

Benefits of mentoring schemes for boards

  • Having greater diversity of thought
  • Building a pool of future appointees, aiding succession planning
  • Promoting the role of public bodies to a wider audience
  • Encouraging organisational development and innovation
  • Securing talent, not losing it
  • Gaining a different perspective by attracting new and different experience and backgrounds
  • Having to opportunity to collaborate and partner with other public bodies running similar schemes.

What do individuals gain from mentoring schemes?

  • The change to develop confidence and build on existing skills
  • A greater understanding of how boards operate
  • Achieving personal development, both mentors and mentees
  • Having the chance to learn from sharing experiences and offering guidance
  • Being better equipped to become a future board member.

Key questions to consider when starting a mentoring scheme

  1. Is your board on-board?
    • Organisations must be open to nurturing talent and encouraging diversity.
  2. How will you attract candidates?
    • Using partnerships with other organisations and diversity groups to attract candidates.
    • Deciding on a selection process.
  3. Can you offer participants a ‘hands on’ experience?
    • It is vital to offer good quality mentoring, where participants are offered the opportunity to share their views and provide challenge.
  4. Can you manage expectations?
    • Schemes are not a guarantee of appointment but provide opportunity to learn and develop
  5. Have you considered confidentiality?
    • Being able to balance giving participants as much access as possible while maintaining board confidentiality where necessary.