As we approach the end of 2020, a year like no other in our lifetime, we can at last see a glimmer of light. If 2020 has been a year of unprecedented lows then it is essential that the recovery which will begin in 2021 is a year of corresponding highs but how can we do this and where do we start? To a lot of businesses it can feel a little overwhelming, particularly if you are part of the senior team. Do we have all of the answers combined with the strategies and the means to make it happen?

There are resources to help and some of them are fully funded so your only investment is your time. Peer Network is a programme by BEIS delivered locally by Growth Platform and I am fortunate enough to be involved in facilitating a few of the groups. Peer Network supports SMEs, within the LCR, to address the issues that they are facing. It is not a course where the content is dictated by the presenter, it is an environment where individuals raise the issues that they are facing and these are deliberated within the group.

Peer Network follows the Action Learning Process whereby members of the group will put forward work-related issues that they are struggling with and the other participants will ask a series of open questions that allows the ‘Issue-Holder’ to think about their challenge in a different light. This often leads to light-bulb moments where the route to the answer becomes much more clear. How often do we have a problem that we have been struggling with and just by relaying it out loud to a colleague or friend the answer becomes obvious. How much better then if you have a trusted peer group adding their wisdom and experience, often from a totally different perspective, to this process?

Diversity within the groups provides fantastic new perspectives to shine on the challenge and potential solutions. Within the cohort that began last week there are businesses ranging from Home -Letting to a Dogs Home, Financial Planning to Education, HR to manufacturing. The group quickly gelled together and supported the issue holder in a safe and confidential environment. The options for the Issue-Holder to explore soon became clear and it was gratifying for everyone in the group to see the change of mood for the individual concerned. They admitted that they had felt that the future of their business all seemed to depend upon her actions and somehow she needed to find all the answers herself. She had set such a high standard and tight deadlines that it had appeared impossible. By the end of the session the course of action and tasks to resolve the issue became so clear and manageable.

The issues raised within the group on this occasion related to cashflow and Brexit but the benefit of the programme is that it addresses the issues raised within the group and these are prioritised depending upon how important they are for the issue-holder, how urgent they are and how relevant they are to the wider group. The group bonded quickly around the challenge and even though the session was delivered remotely via Zoom, it felt as though we were all in the same room, I guess we are all becoming prolific on Zoom these days.

There will be two new cohorts starting in January, one aimed at the wide range of businesses that make up the Visitor Economy which has been hit so hard by the pandemic and is so vital for our local economy. The second group is a more general group, open to any sector to increase the diversity within the cohort.

If you would like more information or to register an interest, visit flourishandgrow.uk or get in touch!