We all need a trusted advisor at some points in our careers, and many of us will have a formal or informal mentor within our company. This can be invaluable but does have its limitations: can anyone who works in the same business ever be completely objective when offering advice?
That’s why the ECR UK Board decided to set up a cross-company initiative for supply chain professionals. In the ECR Mentoring programme, a senior retailer mentors a rising star at the next level down in manufacturing, and vice-versa. Not only does this give a fresh, unbiased perspective, it also promotes greater understanding between trading partners at a personal and senior level, which is key part of ECR.
Starting with 17 relationships in 2013 to test the concept, the approach has proven hugely popular, not only with mentees but also the mentors, who enjoy giving something back but also learn from the experience themselves. Over 80% of participants have agreed that the programme has met two objectives: providing personal growth and building a broader understanding of the supply chain.
This year has seen another big surge with 270 people involved in 135 relationships, a leap of 70% from 2016. To manage so many relationships, we are now using mentoring support software.
How big can this eventually become? There are limits because it relies on the availability of senior people in both retailing and manufacturing but IGD, who manages ECR UK, will continue to develop the service further, potentially to professions beyond supply chain management.
More information is available here: ECR Mentoring