development of internal mentors for one big bank based on CEFE

One of the leading commercial banks in Southeast Europe started the “Step by Step” mentorship program for their start-up clients. The program has been implemented for the last few years by external mentors from consulting companies. Most of the start-up client, attracted by additional free-of-charge service offered by the bank, applied for the mentorship. It was a win-win approach – the bank got new loyal clients and clients got one year of free mentorship.

After a deep analysis of achieved results, impact and costs of the Program, the bank management proposed a new approach: instead of hiring external (and expensive) consultants, development of internal mentors selected among the bank’s staff was proposed as a more effective and efficient approach. Internal mentors have extensive knowledge of bank procedures and clients’ performances, there are well known to the clients as their bankers, and of course they are a much more effective solution, when looking from cost perspective. The bank decided to publish an internal call for mentors – 70 people applied and 27 were selected to attend training for internal mentors.

Internal mentors have one big disadvantage – they lack any entrepreneurship experience or (most often) even understanding of entrepreneurs’ mindset. They act as bankers during the contacts with entrepreneurs and usually trigger a lack of comfort and trust of their clients. They have never been in the shoes of an entrepreneur and experienced a start-up ecosystem. Instead of highly structured procedures, job descriptions, properly defined sectors and other elements of standard business model that can be found in corporations, entrepreneurs in start-ups usually conduct a broad set of different activities, delegation is limited or non-existent because there are just a few people, there is (still) no well-recognized brand, even everyday business language is simpler, less structured in comparison to corporative jargon.

The head of the bank’s Social Banking department is one of the rare people with international and entrepreneurship experience and he realized the decisive importance of adequate training. He has chosen the CEFE methodology as the most adequate to enable mentors to understand the perspectives of entrepreneurs. Trainers of SEE CEFE (namely, CEFE Serbia and CEFE Bosnia) tailored five-day training, fully customized to internal mentors’ development. Trainees/prospective future internal mentors experienced different business situations of a start-up through well-known CEFE exercises like Pearl Exercise, Dart Exercise, Mini-Market, Market Room Simulation, Matchbox Champions, Crown Production, Tower Building, Value Engineering, Mr. Tudor, just to name a few. Crucial areas of mentorship and mentor’s role were facilitated and trainees got a set of mentorship tools. In addition, peculiarities of particular industries, from which most startup clients come from, were covered as well as reporting forms, mentor’s visit structure, KPIs of mentorship, milestones, and mentorship program evaluation methods. The training also included persuasive communication skills, experiential learning, and learning of adults as well as feedback giving and receiving.

The training also resulted in a strong demand of further trainings for new mentors within the bank. 80 new applicants were already received for the mentor training program 2020.

There is a big chance that a program will be replicated in some European and Asian countries.

to be continued in 2020… Will keep you informed 🙂

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