Get Unstuck in Your Engagement Career – New Mentoring Opportunities Available.

I’ve built a career on knowing how to deal with complex problems and helping organisations get unstuck, skills that can also be incredibly valuable for helping you develop a career that works for you and your needs. Community engagement is no easy job and mid-career engagement practitioners can come up against a variety of challenges that need to be overcome. Some that come to me regularly are:  

  • Needing approaches or justifications that help gain internal commitment to more principled community engagement 
  • Responding creatively and productively to outrage (and avoid getting defensive and making things worse) 
  • Responding to situations that feel ‘stuck’, where there is no clear way to move forward or nothing you have tried has worked. 
  • Addressing self-confidence issues and needing support when you are thrown into the deep end.  
  • Needing resources and tools to provide more options for engaging those who are ‘hardly reached’ and increasing engagement with projects more generally 
  • Moving from networking to collaborating on projects and bringing in meaningful work that suits your skill set. 
  • Prototyping new ideas, approaches and ways to evaluate the success of projects. 

All of these challenges can be overwhelming and if left unchecked can lead to feeling disengaged and dissatisfied with your work. Working together we can untangle some of these challenges and develop skills and approaches that work for you – no matter your style of facilitation or personality. I understand that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, for example, I may be good at quickly building rapport with groups but struggle when it comes to promoting myself or figuring out exactly what my aspirations are (even though I am trying my best here!). 

Although I am now often congratulated for being a laidback facilitator that is cool under pressure that wasn’t always the case and is a skill that comes from surviving many a wild public meeting. In several meetings, I have been verbally abused by members of the public and was once accused of being biased about the outcome because the client was paying me to do the work. Naturally, I offered the people being consulted the opportunity to match what the client was paying if that would help them feel I was more neutral on the issue. People laughed and we got on with it. From these experiences, I have come up with numerous ways to navigate some really tough situations and turn them into situations where trust is built.

There are plenty of other lessons I’ve learned in over 25 years in the industry too that I like to share with my mentees. Like the more you try to please some clients, the more anxious they become, often because they don’t know what they were doing. It’s also very convenient to blame the consultant when things don’t go well and try to move on by throwing a new consultant or process at increasingly upset communities.  Conversely, when I was early in my career I found that although I was working well with unhappy communities, they would build a relationship with me but still have negative feelings and a lack of trust towards to organisation that hired me. This was a wake-up call. If anything, I felt my involvement made things worse. I learnt an important lesson: the legacy of any engagement work should be to strengthen the relationship between organisations and their communities. 

I’m really enjoying doing more mentoring work, and learning plenty from my mentees too, including a fabulous group who are close to finishing the inaugural IAP2 Advanced Mentoring Program (I’m sharing the mentoring role with Amanda Newbery and Leisa Prowse). So as part of my future work (and in honor of my fully grey head of hair) I am now pleased to offer Mentoring Packages for individuals, teams, and groups of individuals. 

For more information about this go to Better still give me a call or DM me to discuss how I can support your professional development! 


#engagement #mentoring #codesign #collaboration

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