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Captains Peer Mentor Program in six districts
During 2015, the Captains Peer Mentor Program (CPMP) is running in six CFA districts.
Developed by Instructor District 14 Kris Wilms, working with the district operations team, this program provides support to captains for their broader leadership role. It focuses on general management rather than command and control.
Through a secondment to Volunteerism, Kris works alongside local district staff, who have adopted the program to support senior volunteer leaders.
Local teams run the program in each district, involving Operations Officers and volunteer support staff.
Both mentors and those who are mentored are invited into the program on the recommendation of the district operations teams. Reasons for an opportunity to mentor are many but might include:
- Professional development and growth into the captain’s role and support during early captaincy
- Introducing and managing change in a brigade – the type and frequency of training, changes to risk profile, local area growth, changes in culture, recruitment and retention challenges
- People management – interpersonal relationships, conflict, discipline issues, historical issues, managing the complex group dynamics of a brigade
- Understanding the practicalities of the role – the legislative frameworks, time commitments, administrative processes, who does what and what a captain does beyond command and control.
Without bypassing existing informal relationships or the chain of command through the Catchment Operations Officer, the program provides a framework for a partnership with a current or former captain.
A feature of the program is that it is tailored to meet the needs of the individual who seeks to be mentored. In fact, it is a mentee-driven process. The peer partnership gives those being mentored the opportunity to work through their problems or discuss any challenging aspect of their role.
The mentor role focuses on support and knowledge-sharing rather than taking a directive approach, with emphasis on professional development for all participants.
Expected to finish by November, the CPMP also provides a structure to participants to plan how, when and where they may choose to catch-up. The program is also supported by workshops to be held throughout the year for mentors and an optional discussion group for mentored persons. These activities and a dinner at the end of the year provide opportunities to meet with other senior leaders in each district.
Participation to the program is considered to be a good opportunity for practical, personalised professional leadership development.