Making Your Partnership a Learning Experience

Apart from the many more obvious benefits of your community business partnership, one other bonus which this relationship can bring is education. Not only can learning be incorporated into your community business partnership model, but just being involved in a partnership can give you opportunities to learn.

Learning Through your Chosen Partnership Model

While most partnership models encourage some level of learning, there are a few that have learning and the exchange of knowledge at their heart: mentoring, skills and knowledge sharing, and secondment.

Mentoring is a process which sees one person share their specific knowledge and expertise with others.
  • The mentor serves as a teacher – offering encouragement, information and feedback on a regular basis to the person they are mentoring.
  • It stimulates personal development, as well as building the capacity of the community in which the person being mentored lives and works.
Skills and Knowledge Sharing sees an increase in the capacity of community business partners, as well as the wider community in which they operate.
  • One partner uses their skills or knowledge to the other's benefit, with initiatives such as providing a management plan or establishing a risk management strategy. Unlike mentoring, which can be more of a one-way flow of communication, sharing skills and knowledge is an active, two-way involvement.
Secondment is linked to the Skills and Knowledge Sharing partnership model, and is where a business lends one of its skilled staff to a community group for a period of time to help that group complete a task.
  • Often secondment can occur in fields like accounting or law where an individual works for the other partner to provide knowledge and skills while learning how the other organisation operates.

Learning in any Partnership

Most other partnership models still offer some learning opportunities, including:
  • Sharing management techniques – both operational techniques and “people-management” methods.
  • Sharing and transferring skills and abilities.
  • Sharing knowledge of organisational or operational methods.
  • Staff and community group members sharing experiences, as well as working with each other.
  • Information and advice being shared on how to deal with troublesome situations, bad publicity, etc.