Inside Out

According to government research, quoted by the Daily Mail recently, six out of ten offenders dealt with by the justice system return to crime within nine years.
Daily Mail coverage about tackling reoffending by mentoring

That must have a major impact on public finances (which bear the costs of policing and punishment); and peoples’ lives (both victims of crime and perpetrators).

No wonder then that acting for the government, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is encouraging the growth of effective mentoring programmes, intended to keep ex-offenders from re-offending.  The Guardian newspaper documents the early stages of such a mentoring relationship.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/23/prisoner-mentoring-rehabilitation-conversation

http://openclipart.org/clipart/people/magnifyi...

http://openclipart.org/clipart/people/magnifying_glass_01.svg License: PublicDomain Keywords: people Author: AbiClipart Title: Magnifying Glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I believe that significant value could be added by skilled volunteers meeting the offender a year before their sentence ends and supporting them through establishing a coaching relationship.

The key would be the coach helping them look closely at the reality of their lives to date; identify positive future goals (in the same way that readers of Brian Tracy, Steven Covey, John Whitmore or Laura Berman-Fortgang would recognise); select the viable options they can pursue to attain them; develop the will take the first steps toward their future.

Undertaking that journey would establish strong foundations on which mentors and other positive external influencers could build, after release.

Hopefully mentoring is only one of the strategies which the government is going to support, to help offenders better manage the transition from life inside to their future beyond crime.

Back to Reality

When is the ideal time to learn something new?  Put another way, when is there ever a quiet few months in which to tackle personal development goals?  I doubt there ever will be an ‘ideal’ or ‘quiet’ time, since the stack of competing claims on our time is increasing daily.  It might take a very long time to roll the dice correctly to earn permission to start.

Two dice

Make a choice, don’t leave development to luck

 

There’s also always the risk that some senior colleagues view that time as time spent being unproductive.

I vividly recall saying as much to a colleague whom I mentored.  His aspiration was to earn a promotion from his entry level management role to the next management grade.

I encouraged him to look at the common attributes called for in the roles he wanted to hold.  I supported him in identifying voluntary opportunities in his current role that he could exploit, to demonstrate his potential.  We came up with a twelve month development timetable he could follow, to gradually build up his skills portfolio.  His goal was to be at the front of the promotion pack one year hence.  Then reality intervened.

Somehow my mentee’s line manager never got around to creating the space for his wider potential to be demonstrated.  Perhaps that manager liked the results he was getting from my mentee and thought my mentee was happy staying in that role.  Inevitably that line manager then left.

Their successor needed to focus on maintaining results, not developing people.

An internal re-organisation followed.

Before the dust settled the ideal time for development had passed.

If there is a lesson to take away from this example, it may be this.  However difficult the reality, the ideal time for development may just be ‘now’.