How business mentoring could help you navigate a path beyond coronavirus
Reacting to a ‘new normal’ doesn’t happen overnight, but in the wake of COVID-19, making strategic changes to your business operations must be done quickly to adapt and exploit any available opportunities. In an unprecedented pandemic, the pressure on company leaders isn’t just business-related, it’s personal. Not only are you accountable for managing financial risks, but your employees are counting on you to protect their jobs, their health, and their families’ livelihoods.
Now, more than ever, we need to work together. Managing reduced and furloughed staff, complex government guidance and rigorous new health and safety rules brings a whole new set of business challenges. Mentoring offers valuable support for business leaders – from sharing experience to working through problems and validating your thinking, you don’t have to go it alone.
Glenn Bemment, Regional Director and Head of Mid Corporate – North at Lloyds Banking Group, is business mentor to Adam Watts, CEO of EFT Systems, a Southport-based integrated security manufacturer. Glenn says:
“By sharing best practice with SMEs and understanding what really matters to them – if we can inform, guide, support and just be there for them – then we have every chance to help them survive and support them as we come through the crisis together, for the benefit of everyone living and working in the UK.”
How could business mentoring help you?
It can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when you’re facing considerable change and tough decisions. Speaking to a mentor who’s been through some of the challenges you may be facing lends a new perspective, as well as bringing a wealth of knowledge gained from years of experience.
Having a voice that can objectively look at your business challenges away from industry-specifics, could give you fresh thinking and solutions you may not have thought of. Sharing business knowledge and experience is a valuable tool, and reflecting on what you may be able to do differently could ultimately mean the difference between success and failure – especially with the instability of the current climate.
Adam Watts explains the real value of mentoring: “It’s helping to build my confidence as CEO. I’m responsible for the mortgages and lives of over 100 people, it could keep me awake at night but through mentoring I’m able to discuss the highs and lows. In business it makes sense to speak to as many people as possible to get different perspectives. My number one priority is carrying on my business’s legacy and sustainably growing it.”
Being a business leader can be isolating, with heavy responsibility and pressure. Mentoring is a way to share the load and work through problems with someone who has the experience to fully understand the difficulties you’re facing and how to solve them. Confidence is key, and having a mentor to provide independent feedback, to both challenge and validate your thinking can be a huge confidence booster.
Stephen Ellis, Operations Director of Manufacturing and Engineering SME Evac Chair, values the honest and objective feedback from his mentor, Keith Softly, Managing Director, Asset Finance, Lloyds Banking Group. Stephen says:
“I reflect a lot day-to-day about what we have discussed during mentoring sessions and use this in how I approach problems, people management and decision-making. As a leader, you don’t often enjoy affirmation or reassurance, so having this from someone independent is much appreciated.”
He also believes working with a mentor is a sign of strength. “A mentor brings perspectives from outside of your business and will give advice, where it’s useful. It’s down to you what you do with the advice as you know your business best. But if there’s an angle you haven’t considered, a different way of thinking, adding this into your thought process will only make you a stronger and more effective leader”.
Be the Business’s Rapid Response Mentoring
Our strategic partner, Be the Business has established a national business mentoring programme, bringing companies together to make executive experience more accessible and help boost British business on the global stage.
Mentoring relationships generally grow stronger over the long term, but in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, time is not a luxury afforded to business leaders. In response to the need for something faster and more reactive, Be the Business has introduced a free 12-week Rapid Response mentoring programme, to help SMEs through the extraordinary situation of a global pandemic. Experience has shown that this programme has had the most success with businesses who have a turnover of around £1M and more.
When your business survival hinges on quick thinking and reactive decision-making, working through challenges with someone independent can be invaluable. Peer-to-peer mentoring provides a sounding board for difficult decisions, giving you support in managing complex situations and developing the right strategy to not only survive, but rebuild and thrive.
Keith Softly, Managing Director, Asset Finance, Lloyds Banking Group and Business Mentor, says:
“Businesses will need to act decisively and may need to make considerable changes in order to diversify and adjust their business strategy. Having a mentor on board can help a business owner to accelerate the changes needed and build the confidence to push forward.”