"Secondment": guidelines and advice

A very effective way of acquiring new knowledge and skills, and attending to the “how to” of personal development is "secondment".

Brookes doesn’t currently have a formal secondment policy, but it will be clear from your engagement so far with this website that Brookes is keen to promote sharing and transfer of skills and knowledge across its workforce.

In order for sharing to happen, the view of Brookes as a pool of talent is key.  This website encourages you to see that as a fact, and to be clear that this puts you in a very advantageous position to develop. Another key idea is that, in order to facilitate sharing, a degree of mobility needs to be allowed to staff to set up relationships and situations in which this transfer can happen. This is what is meant here by “secondment”.

This mobility can take a whole spectrum of forms: from a short visit to another team to observe a skilled chair manage a meeting: to a half-day on patrol with one of the caretakers to shadow and get ideas about the role and the tasks involved; to a day a week “internal work-experience” in another dept, to learn and use a new item of finance software; to a more formal “swap” of personnel between two teams who agree to a cross “mentoring” arrangement and an intention to submerge the person in the role; to a temporary departure from Brookes to develop knowledge and skills from another organisational context. You may want to watch a skill being used, or you may want to roll up your sleeves and get involved: all of these variations and degrees of involvement are the type of work alliances that make up the Brookes definition of secondment.

Colleagues wishing to improve their existing skills, or learn new skills, or find out about what other roles and professions are like are encouraged to discuss possibilities of "secondment" with their line managers – who will assess the request in the light of operational priorities. To put yourself in the best possible position to have the request agreed, it’s important to build your case and research your options thoroughly, before going in to negotiate. You need to think about what you can “give” in return for time, and aim for a Win-Win situation as far as you can.

For some good ideas about building your case, see: case study: Krisztina Jaksa

Skills and knowledge development and the forming of supportive work alliances is very definitely what mentoring is about. For further information see the Brookes mentoring scheme.

For help with time to do career development like “secondment”, have a look at the in work study leave hour policy, which is all about creatively and collegially using the hour to enhance and build.

For any additional support, talk with an OCSLD consultant about your ideas.