Keeping up your business mentor relationship is critical during Lockdown even though it’s a time that brings plenty of additional challenges for business – and for businesspeople. We've gathered together some ideas on how to get the most from mentoring during Lockdown – whether you're a business mentor or a business owner receiving support. Although social distancing is necessary, it doesn’t mean you can’t maintain or even begin a business mentoring relationship.
Why business mentoring matters during Lockdown
We’re all working hard to keep people, businesses, jobs and the economy healthy which brings a lot of pressure. Our mental wellbeing underpins our ability to face challenges as does our sense of being connected and informed.
Good communication must be a priority – with your staff, family, those you support and those who support you. That includes your mentoring relationship.
Business Mentors can be particularly helpful at putting things into perspective because they don't have a financial or emotional investment in a business. Let your mentoring be something dependable in Lockdown.
Making business mentoring work during Lockdown
Make the most of technology to keep your mentor meetings and relationship going. Having video calls, which enables face-to-face, can sometimes help you connect better than with a phone conversation.
If you choose to use an online platform, take time to test everything ahead of your meeting. Online, follow the usual tips for a productive meeting:
- Use an agenda
- Avoid distractions
- Agree on any actions, and
- Follow up afterwards.
All these practices mean you’re valuing the other person’s time, and that’s a great way to show care.
Don’t be afraid to deal with complexity. Waiting to discuss tough issues in person isn’t always a luxury we have right now. Please don't feel you need to put on a brave face over Lockdown anxieties because staying connected, patient and kind will help us all.
Finally, every change brings new opportunity, and Covid Lockdowns are no different. If you want ideas to boost your optimism, our case studies are a great place to start. One example is Darran’s story — his Business Mentor’s guidance helped him double his Covid income.
What business owners should know about Mentoring in Lockdown
Be proactive — reach out and check in with your Business Mentor. The latest Lockdown brings new stresses for many of us, and your Business Mentor may be under pressure too. Ask how their own lives have been affected by the Lockdown before talking about how you can stay connected over this period.
Although the pandemic is new to everyone, your Business Mentor is likely to have experience that gives them great ideas about how to cope with what’s happening. Your Business Mentor has likely faced changing business environments and legislation in the past, so they may be able to explain how to prioritise and find your way when things are moving fast.
Allow yourself to be authentic with your Business Mentor, your team and those looking to you for leadership. You don’t need to have all the answers all the time. Remember, ask for help and support when you need it. If you have particular questions or concerns to discuss with your Business Mentor, sort through your thoughts before meeting to make the most of your time.
Also, remember that Mentoring is a two-way street. Your contributions and ideas may be equally valuable to your Business Mentor as theirs are to you. Be generous with your conversations.
What Business Mentors should know about Mentoring in Lockdown
If you're a Business Mentor, you can have a direct impact on the welfare and wellbeing of a business owner by helping them to feel connected and hopeful throughout Lockdown. And the rewards go both ways.
By helping others, you’ll enjoy the satisfaction of seeing your experience make a positive impact for someone else. Having something good to focus on can give anyone a little lift so enjoy this opportunity.
The principles and techniques of effective mentoring apply just as strongly during a Lockdown. You're there to listen, not to go in and fix. And remember that a business owner’s mental wellbeing is crucial for leading a business to success. The O.A.R.S. technique can be helpful when people are under pressure.
Open-ended questions: Ask questions that allow people to explain their thinking. Some examples may be: What’s the worry? What would help lessen it? Who could help?
Affirmation: As you listen, genuine affirmations of the person’s concerns help them know they’re being heard. Sometimes that can be enough to allow them to shift into finding solutions.
Reflection: Echo back what you hear to clarify you've understood what they meant.
Summarisation: Set out the main points so you can build a plan of action for problem-solving.
None of us has faced a pandemic like this before. It’s okay to acknowledge concerns you’re facing in your own work. We’ll all do better if we pool our ideas and resources to make the most of this situation.
We’ve got this
Although times might be tough, we know that's when the tough get going. Everyone involved with Business Mentors NZ has shown they're keen to find ways to succeed and we'll uncover a lot more by working together – even when we're physically apart.
The Government announced that Auckland would be at Alert Level 3 until at least Wednesday 26 August at 11.59 pm while the rest of the country will be in Alert Level 2. You can find guidelines about how businesses must operate at the different Alert Levels here.
Helpful links for Lockdown
This tool helps you forecast your cashflow by prompting you to describe your financial position and the changes you expect.
A list of the financial assistance that is available for businesses is here.
Mental wellbeing at work
Mental Health N.Z. has a range of resources to help support your mental wellbeing during Lockdown including in the workplace.
Q.R. code posters
If you’d like to be a part of our network as either a Business Mentor or to work with one, then contact us now. We'll be here to help lift you up regardless of Lockdown.