I’ve invested quite a bit of time in June and July in a process
of Ministerial Development Review, the total net result of which appears to have
been sending the Bishop a couple of lines about each of three of the things on
which I was already fully aware that I am focussing at the moment, now expressed as ‘objectives’
for the next year.
The ‘new’ Common Tenure
terms and conditions include obligations for the provision of and participation
in Ministerial Development Review in a form which has regard for Archbishops’
Council guidance. It is something about
which I’ve blogged before here and here and here, fretting among other things about the way it might end up being an inefficient
process of management by such objectives - the guidance doesn’t actually offer
any theological or practical argument for its particular focus on this tool.
I had really hoped that there would be more to it than that,
but when I sat down with my pleasant and supportive reviewer her first
questions were indeed about how the substantial background material on which I
had worked for her might be converted into some narrower specific objectives.
I had already found that the Agreed Summary and Objectives
form (the one thing which the Bishop and CME Officer would see and the one
thing which would be kept on my official file) is a single side of A4 and one
which acts as a template for recording these objectives alone – there is a
suggestion that additional pages could be added but each time this would
require a specific initiative by reviewee or reviewer to do so (so, to take one example, there is no
prompt to respond to the Archbishops’ Council’s suggestion that ‘where people
have particular strengths these should be identified for particular comment’).
The introductory material to the diocesan scheme says among
other things ‘[The Bishop] is responsible for... understand the challenges [the
clergy] face... The
Ministerial Development Review has been developed to provide a formalised
process... to ensure that every member of clergy has the
opportunity to feed back their concerns, their needs and their triumphs’
but this template is designed instead simply to report the objectives and how
these might be facilitated and doesn’t actually prompt any feedback to the
Bishop about challenges, concerns or triumphs.
In May, a disgruntled clergyman wrote to the Church Times
about his own experience and was even more cynical: “my perception – am I
right? – is that ministerial review is really intended for Common Tenure clergy
partly to provide a paper trail in case the history of a clergy member’s employment
ends up in an Employment Tribunal: ‘S/he may have had a breakdown through
overwork, but we have written evidence through ministerial review of our advice
to attend a course on How to Delegate’”.
I had actually wondered whether the legal obligation to participate
actually exists since the diocese does not yet have provision in a form which has regard for Archbishops’
Council guidance in terms of a number of things including frequency (my
invitation to take part in what is recommended to be an annual process but which
is required to happen at least every two years came after more than three years
subject to Common Tenure) and the gathering of feedback from others (which is
not part of the present diocesan scheme at all).
But I didn’t have the energy to cause a fuss around refusing
on that basis. Instead I’ve done my bit,
and included some of the above in the feedback requested on the process. There was also in May a couple of people from
outside the diocese reviewing our provision so, who knows, things may be about
to change for the better anyway.
Peter Mullins used to think he had the potential to be a rather effective parish priest, and has had a spell when his job involved the in service training of other clergy, but after thirty-five years every new experience makes him realise just what he has missed and is missing.