As lockdown in Scotland begins to ease, it is obvious our old ‘normal’ has gone and will not return. The next few months will see a major economic adjustment while the Scottish and UK Governments have provided an unprecedented amount of support to businesses, but that will lessen as lockdown eases further.
Successful businesses will need to reinvent and adapt by building resilience – in other words, by increasing the degree of shock or change they can tolerate. Organisations will have many decisions to make in the coming months as they begin or continue to rework their operations. It is vital they get the support they need to make the right decisions going forward.
Mentors can be a lifeline for businesses looking for guidance in these trying times – no matter how established a business you run. Entrepreneurs and businesses executives are a fantastic source of information for organisations going through reinvention and can help set them up to thrive in the future. Having the ear of an independent third party could also bring new thinking to the business, a distinct benefit over relying solely on your chair or board for advice.
There are several areas where mentors can really support organisations through helping to develop the new attitudes, needs and behaviours required to flourish as we establish our new normal.
Creating adaptive capacity using mentoring
Resilience is important, but it is the extent of a businesses’ adaptive capacity that is more critical – not only how it adjusts to the potential damage of the pandemic, but also how it takes advantage of opportunities and positively responds to the consequences. This adaptive capacity will be crucial in developing new growth pathways in the economic downturn to come.
A focus on developing an organisational mindset of adaptive growth rather than reactive planning strategies is imperative, particularly as we don’t know what the future holds for individual businesses or the economy in general. Mentoring is the perfect intervention to support this type of mindset adjustment.
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Supporting innovative approaches
Part of the role mentors play in supporting the development of adaptive capacity is to create the reflective space required to produce innovative and creative ideas.
Unfortunately, one impact of living with the pandemic is suffering from a continual attack on our nervous system due to uncertainty and high-pressure situations. The constant “fight or flight” reaction is exhausting and makes it difficult to see the bigger picture.
A mentor can facilitate a reflective space through active listening and creating an environment of trust and relaxation. By simply helping the mentee gather as much data and information as possible and supporting a relaxed state, ideas will flow and start forming into a strategy. The “rest and digest” mentality is far better suited to figuring out solutions.
Encouraging hope and optimism in Scotland
Mentors provide a non-judgemental reality check. They can give hope and – especially because they have all overcome previous economic challenges – optimism that the business will find its footing.
Hope and optimism will energise Scottish businesses to take imaginative risks, seize opportunities, and face confidently and courageously into the future.
Knowing the importance of mentors for businesses, the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, through Scottish Business Cares in partnership with the Scottish Government, has launched a mentoring service open to any Scottish business – though it will be particularly beneficial to SMEs. We want as many organisations as possible to survive and we are here to help this process.
For more information about the SBRC mentoring service, please visit the SBRC website.