Retail Specialist


Leadership Career Mentoring In 2022 - What Does It Look Like?

It will be no surprise to anyone in retail that everything feels pressured right now, it’s Peak trading season and we’ve got a lot to do to create the sales and profit we need to keep our brands growing with investment in ever changing customer needs.

No matter what level you’re at in the career cycle however the pressure is there, it’s potentially relative to the responsibility held but it’s very real and it can be really hard to manage. Chuck in any recent organisational design post the pandemic, coming back to work in office from home or furlough and worldwide supply chain issues and it’s a real mash up of challenges and change that will spill into 2022 with a vengeance.

Senior leaders have more to contend with than ever and I can really sympathise, we have a responsibility to ensure our teams get the job done and that we look after their needs but it has to be in a way that goes with the business needs too. Trouble shooting becomes the norm and the equation of Brexit + Covid has left time pockets for individual and team development sucked up by the day to day.

What does 2022 look like for your team?

2022 presents an opportunity to look at how your create your program of development because we should see a settlement into the new norm with any adapted ways of working created to suit recent times.

Identifying what support your team members need to flourish will be massively important because they may feel disconnected or disconcerted after the swift changes that have happened with the pandemic and they will need to feel valued and invested in.

Mentoring offers an opportunity to use a mix of internal talent and external experts to create safe environments for your people to discuss their feelings with someone who knows what it’s like to be where they are right now. They have a sounding board for questions, development discussions and to know that how they feel is perfectly normal – taking on new responsibilities to stretch yourself whilst doing your day job is uncomfortable and potentially imposter syndrome can creep in when it’s needed the least. A mentor at any stage of leadership (not just when you’re at senior level) will help deal with this and potentially prevent burnout or anxiety that can spiral.

Ask yourself these questions so you can build Mentoring into your people plan:

1. How do I manage Mentoring with multi location working?

For many, the prospect of everyone packed back into the office amongst the samples is now a distant memory and being able to see your team face to face in not an everyday occurrence. We’re getting used to online meetings and that ‘touching base’ can feel a little more impersonal with body language harder to read because laptop cameras only capture so much of the person you’re talking to.

With offices costly to run, cynically, you can also assume there is some saving to not having them back at full capacity as well as the expectation of newer additions to the workforce that location should be flexible.

Ask yourself if you have already found the right level of being able to connect with individuals so they are comfortable sharing how they feel or do you need to create time to be in the office in person so you can build easier rapport with those who need you? If you’re not sure then this would be a good place to start and purposefully ask your people what they would prefer or if they would like a change to how things are being done now to support them more.

2. What needs could Mentoring support for my teams personal development?

If you’ve ever had a good mentor in your career then you can answer this one easily. I have been blessed with some great leaders who have taken the time to listen and discuss whatever I was dealing with at the time. I was lucky to be identified as high potential so it was easier for me to set up mentoring when I got to that level. However, I can also say that had I’d had structured opportunities earlier then I think my leadership development would have come on quicker because my imposter syndrome definitely held me back from going for some roles.

A mix of internal and external mentoring can mean you can target individual needs, it can be a part of someone’s development to mentor in other teams and external experts can drive those who need a different perspective to help them grow.

Stories are so important to share and this is what mentoring is all about, learning to listen and understand are key skills for any potential leader whether your team is made up of one person or one hundred. Helping those to find their way through a problem or a blocker by asking the right questions and sharing their own experience can be so rewarding when you see them visibly light up because the solution becomes much clearer to them.

Remember how that felt if it’s happened to you? If it hasn’t then maybe a mentor could really benefit you too.

3. How do I identify who needs Mentoring in my team

The short answer is everyone in your team will need it but what they will get from it will be different. Question 2 will get you thinking about what resource could be available or created in your business and you know there are people like me who will come in and support what you want to achieve. Map our your people and decide who could mentor them so they could meet for a coffee and see how they fit.

4. How does Mentoring support the dynamics of my team for succession planning?

Create your own succession plan so you are tune with your team dynamics:

1. However you manage your hierarchy use this map to have a visual of your team in front of you so you can see their potential next move up, sideways move or opportunities in role.

2. Note your view on their development, are they new to this role? Pushing for promotion? Needs support to drive their development?

3. Get together with other leaders in your business, what can you achieve together to create opportunities for those who are ready for it?

4. Ask for feedback from your team about what would help them drive their own development – It could be time, skills or opportunity to stretch themselves – what does this look like?

5. Look to fill those gaps – do you need mentors, coaches or courses to create what’s required?

So these could be the big considerations for your 2022 plan.

If you’re in planning mode then these could be great questions to ask yourself so you can be the best and do the best for your people in 2022. Everyone needs more support than ever to maintain a cohesive high performing team that feels cared for and connected to their leader and each other.

If you think mentoring could help you give your leadership support so your emerging talent develop then consider how it could become a key part of your people strategy in 2022, start the year as you mean to go on and show your team they are the heart of your business.

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