This is an activity that aims to prepare mentors to provide effective assistance to companies experiencing difficulties across Europe.
The Early Warning Europe Mentor Academy is a continuation of two previous international projects we have implemented as a Foundation: Early Warning Europe and Resc-EWE. It was in the Early Warning Europe project that we created and educated a community of more than 120 mentors in Poland and 1,000 mentors in Europe who have helped and continue to help entrepreneurs in crisis free of charge. The Early Warning Europe Mentor Academy project is aimed at both them and new mentors from all countries in Europe – to develop their competencies and exchange knowledge, experience and best practices.
One of the goals of the project is to create a universal training for mentors supporting companies in crisis, which will be based on the best European standards. The training program is being developed with the participation of both experienced and first-time mentors. They will participate in a peer – learning workshop, during which they will present their needs and develop recommendations for the online training.
The Early Warning Europe Mentor Academy is an initiative of the European Union, within the framework of which the project “Improving the availability and scope of services for companies in financial distress” was created. It is being implemented by AARC Consultancy (Ireland), Erhvervshus Midtjylland (Denmark) and the Family Businesses Foundation (Poland).
As the Foundation, we have very responsible and demanding tasks in the project. We are the leader of two activities: Recruitment of mentors for which Kasia Gierczak- Grupinska was directly responsible, and preparation of all nine peer learning workshops, the leader of this task is Eleni Tzoka Stecka. Six of them are already behind us. The first was held in late October stationary in Barcelona. It was attended by more than 40 mentors from all over Europe, including 5 mentors from Poland. It is worth noting that these were not only mentors associated with our organization and the earlier EWE project, but also mentors working in other organizations.
Watch a summary of the first workshop in Barcelona in the form of a short video.
A second workshop was held in early December, this time online. It was attended by 95 mentors from 33 European countries, including 7 from Poland. The third workshop, also online, took place in January.
During the third workshop, we presented two methods useful in the process of mentoring and supporting companies in trouble – GROW and FIES. We also talked about the status of the implementation of the Restructuring Directive in selected European Union member states. This topic was presented by our mentor Patryk Filipiak.
A very important element of each workshop is the so-called case study, i.e. working on a real, live case. And here, too, there was a Polish accent, as our mentor Agnieszka Simon-Adamczewska talked about one of her mentorships.
The fourth workshop dealt with the psychological aspects of crisis. The topics of working with mentees in the process of personal change and loss were presented by psychologist Katarzyna Kata. She drew mentors’ attention to the fact that when working with a company in crisis, they are working with a person in crisis. They should therefore focus not only on solving financial or management problems in the company, but also on the mental condition of the owner. It is important for them to be able to recognize the different stages of grief and know how to work then, but also when to draw the line and, for example, refer the mentee to a specialist.
The guest speaker at the fifth workshop included Zuzanna Bonecka from Natalia Hatalska’s Infiture Institute. She presented the latest Trend Map 2023, a comprehensive analysis of the most relevant mega trends and trends presented in three time perspectives: new normal (currently leading trends), reactive zone (short-term perspective, trend needs 1 > 5 years to become a leading trend), innovation zone (medium-term perspective, trend needs 5 > 20 years to become a leading trend).
The last workshop to date, held in June, was devoted to the topic of succession and business transfer. It enjoyed a very high level of interest. It was attended by 122 mentors from 31 countries, including 11 people from Poland. We were joined by new mentors who were recruited in the second call conducted this year.
During the workshop, different perspectives on the topic of succession were presented. First, Susanne Grimm and Oscar Howell from Mexico had their presentation, who presented the most important aspects of succession from the perspective of the successor, but also of the organization that supports family entrepreneurs in carrying out this difficult process.
The perspective of a successor who has taken over a family business and has already been running it for many years, on the other hand, was shown by Albert Adamczewski from Poland.
Ewelina Pisarczyk talked about the fact that sometimes succession can end with the sale of the company. Both presentations aroused a lot of emotion and were discussed at length.
After each workshop, we conduct an evaluation to find out how the mentors evaluate the meeting and what they expect in the future. Here are some of their statements:
Thank you to the entire Early Warning Europe team. The timing [of the workshop] is very tight – but at the same time it’s okay because it’s held online. The case studies were once again well chosen and completely representative of the topic of discussion. It was great to attend the workshop and learn from the experienced mentors and participants.
Keep it up. This was my first time attending this workshop and I had no particular expectations. Upon completion, I found them to be very insightful, well prepared and organized, and rich in content.
Helping struggling SMEs is a never-ending topic. Crises that challenge smooth business operations appear one after another. Resilience is the key word these days. Resilience to world crises, personal crises, local, national and international business challenges. That’s why I’m happy to have just completed the second part of the fourth workshop of the Europe Network’s Early Warning Mentor Academy, which aims to create tools to help SMEs in times of need.
It was not only very meaningful work, but also a pleasure to immerse ourselves in difficult case studies, share knowledge and seek solutions with more than 50 mentors from different countries. The many opinions, thoughts and insights on helping SMEs in a critical state is a rewarding experience and food for thought. I feel richer! Thank you for an impressive experience and new helpful tools, EWEMA!
Based on recommendations from mentors, those experienced and those who are just beginning their mentoring careers, an online training course was created to prepare mentors to support companies in crisis. The training is located on the Early Warning Europe learning platform. It consists of 4 modules: Mentoring and Engagement, Problem Analysis and Change Management, Future Planning and Resilience, and Mentoring Readiness.
The mentor learning path is based on going through all the topics included in the 4 training modules independently.
The material is in the form of short articles and videos, with relevant links to supplementary materials. Each participant can share his or her comments on the topic within the forum, which allows him or her to experience so-called social learning. In addition, participants are invited to attend 4 master classes, which last an hour and allow them to explore some topics related to the 4 training modules. These meetings also have a networking dimension.
Two pilot groups have already gone through the above training. Their evaluation will contribute to the final version of the training.
All mentors recruited in this project – and there are as many as 685 of them – will have a chance to go through the above training in six groups between September 2023 and April 2024. We strongly encourage all mentors from Poland who have applied to join to benefit from this experience.
We have 3 more mentor workshops ahead, including two that will be held online:
Topics: Conflict Management , Mediation and Intellectual Property with relevant case studies. These topics will be presented by experts from Greece and Denmark
Topics: Risk Management, Business Exit, Ecology, Networking
Agnieszka Simon – Adamczewska, Krzysztof Kasperuk, Victoria Iwanowska, Ewa Magier, Janina Seredyńska-Targosz, Konrad Frontczak, Marzenna Tusza, Katarzyna Kłopocinska, Agnieszka Zasikowska, Celina Koszany, Grzegorz Kosson, Renata Żukowska, Ewelina Pisarczyk, Dorota Wieczorek, Ewa Chojecka, Maciej Siejka, Przemysław Przyjazny, Albert Adamczewski, Ewa Chojecka, Artur Wróbel, Ryszard Ćwiertniak, Katarzyna Ryfka-Cygan, Marta Ozga, Piotr Andrzej Oszytko, Agnieszka Wdowińska, Damian Hajduk, Monika Stachowicz, Agnieszka Lewandowska, Maks Kisyk, Patrycja Ilasz-Kłoda, Justyna Markiewicz, Tadeusz Woronowicz, Joanna Gawlik-Dziadoń, Jolanta Porebska, Marcin Birkietowicz.
Eleni Tzoka Stecka – responsible for preparing and conducting 9 peer learning workshops for mentors and moderating master classess online trainings
Katarzyna Gierczak-Grupińska – responsible for recruiting experienced and new mentors and moderating peer learning workshops.
Małgorzata Szady – organization support in preparing and conducting workshops and recruiting mentors