I am a mentor for Lisa Holmes*, Principal and founding partner of a small firm of solicitors in Cheshire. The firm is focused on accident and injury claims, employment law and medical negligence.
Lisa’s request for a mentor was to help drive the business forward in what is a rapidly changing marketplace. She previously had a mentor a couple of years ago and valued that experience. My interest in the business mentor scheme is down to my career experience being mainly focused on large multinational organisations and I wanted to understand better how running a smaller business in today’s economy compared.
Lisa and I have met on six occasions over the last seven months. These meetings started with us each understanding the other’s objectives, and developed into specific discussions about what Lisa could do to reach her objectives. I was always very conscious not to step into “telling” mode, so tried hard to ensure we approached solutions from a joint perspective. An example of this was at one of our early meetings we produced a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis for the practice – and while I prompted the discussion I encouraged Lisa to complete the analysis. On the back of this SWOT we jointly agreed focus areas for Lisa to help develop the business.
Feedback from Lisa has been positive – that my experience of working with and in a larger corporate has brought some good ideas to the table and has helped her think about her role as more than just a legal practitioner but also a business manager. As such, Lisa is closer to reaching her objectives today than before this process. Personally I have gained an invaluable understanding of what it takes to run a smaller business, which helps me when working with many of our clients.
Wayne Hiley is an employee of Barclays Bank and a business mentor
*Names have been changed to protect anonymity.