NEW MEMBERSHIP CATEGORIES
Interview with CEO Paul Adams
The Civil Mediation Council is implementing a new membership structure that was approved by the board last year.
In this interview CEO Paul Adams breaks down the different membership categories, explains how the changes benefit the CMC’s members and shares details about the strategic decisions that motivated the restructure.
CB: There are a lot of great things happening for the CMC this year. You have a new website in development and the CMC is also changing its membership categories. What led to these changes in the membership structure?
Paul Adams: These changes have been in the pipeline for a while, to support an integral part of CMC’s 2019 strategy, which is the greater unification and representation of the mediation sector. In order for mediation to have a stronger voice and to have more leverage with government it is vital that practising mediators work together. To do this we have to ensure that there is suitable representation for mediators at all stages of their development.
In a sector that currently remains unregulated, professionalisation is the only route to making mediation the default conflict resolution mechanism. To professionalise we need to implement common standards, code of conduct and accountable complaints procedures across the sector. We can only achieve this if mediators feel that CMC has something to offer them and that they are keen to engage with the organisation. It is vital that mediators see CMC not only as crucial to their own development but also that membership is a professional necessity.
Having conducted analysis of the CMC accredited training, it became clear that many of those graduating from training were not subsequently engaging with the CMC. Our statistics indicate that over the last 10 years roughly 7-10% of those completing training went on to attain CMC Membership status. Further investigation revealed that the observation requirement for registered status constituted a significant barrier to new mediators engaging with the CMC. The existing membership system gave no credit to those who had passed mediation training compared to those who had not, at least not until those with the training had also crossed the observation hurdle.
Data also showed that often senior mediators who had been CMC members earlier in their career, tended to drift away later on, as they felt CMC membership had less relevance to them. Consequently, we set out to revise the membership structure with the aim of being more inclusive and developing a pathway through which mediators will want to engage throughout their career.
CB: How does the new membership structure achieve this?
Paul Adams: To tackle these issues we focussed on four areas: Firstly, developing recognition for those who have passed mediator training and are working towards registered status. Secondly, making the observation requirements more accessible, particularly for those mediating outside of London where fewer observation opportunities exist. Thirdly, acknowledging the expertise and experience of our senior mediators. Fourthly, utilising these senior mediators through the implementation of a mentoring scheme to develop the next generation.
CB: How does this compare with professional development in other careers?
Paul Adams: When we look at professional development in other sectors it is common sense that those finishing their training will not have the same level of experience as those who have been working in the profession for many years. Most professional member organisations have a clear structure that represents this situation and enables them to capitalise on both the new ideas of those joining as well as the experience and expertise of their senior figures.
This is what the CMC is now looking to implement, via a career progression pathway which allows mediators to transition as they become more professionally experienced.
CB: I know there are going to be more categories than before but what exactly does this look like? What are the new categories?
Paul Adams: The added categories are Associate Mediators, Friends of the CMC and CMC Fellows. For those who are interested in mediation but do not wish to practise, the category Friend of the CMC offers an opportunity to access CMC news, resources and events.
Friends do not have the insurance, code of conduct or complaints procedure obligations and consequently will be expected not to practise. It provides a low-cost entry point to the organisation and is ideal for individuals who are considering a future within the sector or those working in other profession that realise the wider value of mediation skills.
For those newly graduated from mediator training the Associate Mediator category has been specifically created. This category will carry the same insurance, code of conduct and complaints procedure commitment as the current Registered Mediator status. Essentially this allows mediators to begin gaining experience in a professional and regulated manner whilst they work towards successful completion of the observation requirements of Registered Mediator status.
The observation requirement has also been reviewed and the CMC is moving to a points-based system. This will make the completion of this phase more accessible by utilising a combination of traditional observations, simulated training scenarios and online resources.
The prestigious CMC Fellow status will be awarded to mediators who have extensive experience and reputation within the sector. It will recognise those individuals who are leaders in the field for their outstanding contribution to the development of the profession.
CB: You mentioned there will be a mentoring scheme implemented to develop the next generation?
Paul Adams: Yes, we are very keen to get our experienced registered mediators and in particular our CMC Fellows involved in developing the next generation of mediators. Especially at the moment with covid-19 mediating can be a lonely business. It’s vital that we give our mediators the opportunity to ask advice, seek out best practise and to share experiences with each other.
We are developing both a mentoring scheme and through our new website an online forum where members can swap ideas, share resources and discuss the best solutions for problems they encounter.
CB: When are these changes going to happen?
Paul Adams: Changes are coming imminently through February. With the new website due late spring / early summer.
CB: Where can I find more information about the new membership structure?
Paul Adams: All information on the new membership structure can be found on the website. If you have any specific questions, please contact our office.