A business mentor takes a sabbatical 

After sixteen years of business mentoring alongside starting The Association of Business Mentors, I felt I needed a breather and decided to take a mentoring sabbatical

A business mentor takes a sabbatical

I still very much wanted and needed to work. So based on the favourite of my previous businesses, which were two restaurants, it is fair to say that it was probably a bit of nostalgia that drove me to look at getting back into hospitality. Working for someone else for the first time in 25 years. This is what I experienced.

Firstly, I compiled a CV. This was a little strange however an interesting exercise. It clearly stated that I started off as a KP (kitchen porter) in a golf club at the age of 14. This was followed by working behind the bar in two pubs, worked a ski season behind a bar in France, managed a bar in London just prior to purchasing my first restaurant, then starting the second from scratch. I sold both reasonably successfully, i.e. for a profit. Armed with this CV I hit the hospitality recruitment sites, feeling confident.

As it transpires this confidence was misguided. I applied for operational roles, HR roles, managerial roles, training, and culture roles to an eclectic mix of small, medium, and large hospitality businesses. The feedback was either zero, absolutely no reply or fear that I hadn’t been on the ‘floor’ for such a long time. I did finally get a position to supposedly run a business so the owner could spend more time at his house in Italy. In hindsight I should have picked up a clue as to how it was going to go from the interview, which lasted roughly one and a half hours. I spoke in total for no more than sixteen minutes. I lasted three days. He was arrogant, egotistical, and blamed everyone else for the clear demise of the business and building. His first question to me was,

‘How are you going to cope with all the mental health issues?’ 

He was adamant that covid, plus generational differences bred employees riddled with mental ill health and a poor work ethic thus being the reason for prolific work absences. Staff turnover was extremely high. I didn’t help the stats.

During my mentoring ‘sabbatical’ I worked for four different restaurant/pub owners in total. All four were completely different. The next had a similar story in that he wanted to retire. He’d been at it for over 40 years, his wife had sadly died, and he wanted a break in warmer climes playing golf. It turned out that he was a control addict who refused to communicate, subjected me to silent treatment on occasion and wouldn’t leave the site. It lasted seven weeks.

I ended up stripping back my CV considerably and got a job as a duty manager at my local pub. It was so much fun, once I got my head round the vastly improved tech.

However, it was owned by sort of a friendly fool who frustrated everyone, never followed up, missed meetings, and had a focus on cutting employee’s hours where he could. Ultimately, he meant well. However, he made promises he never kept which didn’t work for me.

The fourth owner is much younger than the first three. Wonderfully kooky, on the go the whole time but fun and generous with a clear vision. I started at his venue, in a last attempt to find my tribe, right from the opening week. It was great. Both the venue and offer were well planned, thought out and team welfare a priority. There are no mental health issues in the work environment found here. Should there be, the approach would be supportive. Every member of the team is happy, willing to put in the hours, well looked after in terms of all service charge going to them, staff food, discounts and enjoy the relaxed, experienced leadership of the General Manager who puts his people at the heart of everything. 

Although it was fun, I decided that my sabbatical should come to an end. I realised my real tribe was back at the Association of Business Mentors, which is where I am now, refreshed and invigorated with my experiences ready to mentor once more with a couple of key takeaways from my recent journey.

As an employee, never give up on finding where you belong where you are encouraged to thrive. As a business owner and or manager, are you truly leading by example and how aware are you of the impact your behaviour has on your team?? 

Kerrie Dorman
Kerrie Dorman

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