This mentoring opportunity is like gold dust
Glenn, regional director and head of mid-corporates at Lloyds Bank, told us why he initially got involved in the programme.
“I’ve been very fortunate to work with a large number of businesses, including SMEs, around their financing, liquidity and risk management. I decided to use this experience to become a mentor as a way to invest in the regional business community.
“I’m passionate about making a difference, giving something back and supporting small businesses to become more productive. Lloyds Bank is really keen for its leadership team to get involved in mentoring and it’s brilliant to work for an employer who backs you to have a positive impact.”
A productive relationship, right from the start
Following a thorough process which takes into consideration the objectives, experience and preferences of both parties, Glenn was delighted with the match made with Adam Watts, the CEO of engineering firm EFP Systems.
“The first session with Adam took place before lockdown, and it was brilliant. I was able to listen and get to understand the challenges he faces. We had a lot of things in common – including where we’re from, having a young family and trying to run a business – so we connected and built a high level of trust quite quickly. With that personal chemistry in place, we were able to start having meaningful discussions from an early stage.
During lockdown, sessions online has moved online but remained very “productive, honest and enjoyable” sessions lasting at least an hour every month. Together, the two come up with different ideas that Adam might take away and apply within his business.
“My role is to provide a sounding board for Adam, who tends to use the session to focus on the strategic issues he and a lot of SME business leaders experience. We find it most effective to avoid getting into the minutiae of day-to-day problems. I’m hoping each session is serving to help him strengthen his business.”
Real support for an inspiring SME leader
Glenn’s mentee Adam, like many other SME leaders, has faced and continues to face new and changing challenges due to the ongoing pandemic – a position which he has nothing but respect and empathy for.
“SME leaders tend not to have the support of a large team or board around them so they will often carry the full weight of each decision on their shoulders. Coronavirus has only served to add to that weight, and I firmly believe that most business owners are doing everything they can to support employees and job retention given the likely bumps in the road ahead.
“Adam has been such an inspiring leader to work with, and he has faced this challenge with resilience and positivity. The personal values Adam has instilled in the business have clearly helped and kept his teams engaged and supportive through the difficult times.”
Professional and personal benefits
Glenn is finding the mentoring experience hugely beneficial to his own leadership capability and professional development – with significant personal rewards too.
“In my day job, I have overall responsibility for around 450 mid-corporate clients across the North of England. Working closely with Adam gives me additional first-hand knowledge of what’s on the mind of those SME and mid-corporate leaders at this critical time, and this can only help me to help others. I’m getting directly exposed to the leadership, management and strategic challenges faced by our clients, and this experience and insight is like gold dust,” he explained.
“Mentoring is also helping shape my ambition to take on non-executive roles in the future to help other organisations through their challenges.”
Alongside the professional gains Glenn has also experienced some personal benefits that he believes are a core part of the programme. “The mentoring experience has been so immensely rewarding. I genuinely look forward to and enjoy the sessions. I find it satisfying to give back and help others in a way that will benefit society. After all, SMEs are the backbone of the economy and we need to support and empower the entrepreneurial talent in this country. To play a role in this feels really good.
“But I also feel like I’ve gained such a valuable connection in Adam. If he was a banker, I’d have no hesitation in having him in my team, and I hope he would feel the same way about me.”
Glenn thinks that working for a large organisation such as Lloyds Bank through the current crisis makes you realise what a vast array of resources the business is “lucky” enough to have at its disposable to support clients and colleagues – wellbeing, resilience, robust IT and access to digital capability to name a few.
“Clearly this level of resource isn’t available to all businesses but by sharing best practice with SMEs and understanding what really matters to them, we hope we can inform, guide, support and just be there for them. If we do, then we have every chance to help them survive as we come through the crisis together. And that is to the benefit of everyone living and working in the UK.
“Through mentoring another leader, others can play their part in this.”
Learn more about the Be the Business Mentoring programme, find out how you can become involved or get access to an experienced mentor.
As Glenn demonstrates, a mentoring relationship helps those in bigger businesses add very beneficial skills.
“Productive, honest and enjoyable” sessions have taken place between the two in a digital environment.
Glenn is now thinking about how he might take this kind of activity to the next level with non-executive roles.