As an official partner of Team GB, we've seen that businesses and world-class athletes have one major thing in common when it comes to excelling in the face of disruption – the right mindset.
This mindset is particularly crucial for athletes facing the challenge of transitioning to life after sport.
We’ve all heard amazing stories of athletes performing temporary pivots to counter the impacts of COVID-19 ahead of Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, but overcoming permanent changes takes a different kind of resilience.
It’s a pressing concern for businesses too – 69% of people believe the pandemic will permanently change the way they work.
So for this blog, we’ve enlisted the help of two former England rugby professionals who’ve weathered this storm and are now excelling in their careers with Salesforce.
Here we explore their five top tips to boosting business resilience and upskilling effectively to help you build long-term success in the face of disruption.
Martin Corry is an English rugby union legend. In a career spanning 14 seasons, he captained England, Leicester Tigers and the British & Irish Lions winning the 2003 Rugby World Cup along the way. He’s now a high-flying Regional Vice President at Salesforce.
But as Corry transitioned into a post-rugby career, he faced a new set of challenges.
© Martin Corry
“With rugby, I could draw on skills I'd honed over years and create success. Suddenly, you’re in an environment where those skills don’t seem to fit and you can’t see the path to victory.”
For Corry it became clear he needed a mindset shift, so he remembered how he felt at the start of his rugby career and channeled the attitude of an amateur thirsty to learn.
“I realised I had to accept where I was. I didn’t have the innate knowledge of this new challenge I had with rugby. So I looked back to the beginning of my rugby career and re-captured that ‘day one’ mindset: be a sponge for knowledge, scrap for everything, look with fresh eyes. There was a key moment where I pressed reset and things started to improve.”
The mindset change Corry speaks of is something that Bentley Motors know only too well. In 2019 they celebrated their 100th anniversary, had built a huge order bank and were set for record revenues and profits in 2020. Then the pandemic hit. “It looked like we were out of business and I guess for seven weeks, we were.” explains CEO & Chairman, Adrian Hallmark.
But as Hallmark discovered, in the midst of this challenge was a huge opportunity to make lasting change by adapting their mindset. As Hallmark puts it “we needed a paradigm shift in every part of our business.”
For Bentley Motors that meant using Salesforce to totally reimagine customer engagements and overhaul their digital capabilities to ensure they could get closer to their customers than ever before. They integrated their legacy systems to create a 360-degree view of customers for more personalised experiences. This has invigorated Bentley Motors, to the extent that Hallmark believes the business "feels younger than ever." You can read the full story here.
Phillip Burgess is a former England rugby sevens player. Over an incredible career he notched up 50 tournaments, including the Olympic Games Rio 2016 where he won a silver medal, the 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup where he also won silver, and the 2018 Commonwealth Games where he won Bronze. Burgess is now chasing a very different kind of success as an Account Executive at Salesforce.
© Philip Burgess
Much like Corry, Burgess too found the transition to a post-rugby career extremely challenging.
“The rejection was really hard. I'd gone from being one of the best players in the rugby sevens world to feeling like an overqualified graduate.”
For Burgess, he realised he needed a way to mark and measure progress, even when success seemed hard to come by. That meant, reframing failure as a learning experience.
“Failing so many times was hard, but you have to learn from it. Failure is not something we like to associate ourselves with but if we see it as a chance to improve, you can use it to drive towards your goals.”
Learning in the face of adversity is something that UK Trailblazers and retail company The Co-op Group personified during the pandemic. COVID-19 vastly accelerated inbound traffic, meaning their teams had thousands of queries to handle individually.
But as The Co-op Group prides itself on excellent customer service, and on how it engages both its members and customers, letting standards slip was not an option – even in the short term.
So they set about turning this challenge into an opportunity to reevaluate their approach and instigate long-term improvement.
Using Salesforce, The Co-op Group developed a number of new processes. First, they created auto responses to ensure customers knew the steps the business was taking in the face of the pandemic. They then set about building workflows that allowed them to prioritise vulnerable customers.
But crucially, they also used this period as a chance to move to a telephony cloud platform. This meant they could secure more reliable (and cost-efficient) communications to drive a long-term improvement. Dive into the details of The Co-op Group’s story on our blog.
Communication is vital for both Corry and Burgess – from cultivating a robust support network to being strong enough to ask for help in the first place.
“When tough times hit – talk and keep talking”, says Burgess. “Saying ‘I can handle it’ feels like resilience. But resilience is having the strength to be vulnerable. To improve your situation and learn from it, you have to keep talking.”
A point on which Corry agrees: “To upskill effectively, lean on your mentor network. I sought out and made the most of all the learning pathways available, and got advice from mentors both in and out of the industry. That not only accelerated my development, it gave me the support I needed to learn effectively.”
At Salesforce, we also value communication and support. So we set up our B-Well Together initiative which supports employees going through stress, anxiety and adversity and created Trailhead – our learning platform to help train and develop our teams.
Corry is passionate about developing an extension of our Trailhead program, which will be a mentorship pathway designed to give athletes the support they need to transition to a career in tech.
By cultivating a day one mindset you can upskill in the areas that have the biggest impact on your long term development. And by reframing failure as a learning, you can chart progress in the tough times and allow the lessons learned to fundamentally change your approach for the better.
Crucially by communicating and seeking out mentorship opportunities, you can afford yourself the support you need to upskill and develop effectively so you can overcome the challenges ahead.
And if you’d like to learn more about how we tackle upskilling and resilience at Salesforce, we strongly recommend checking out our blog post on our online learning platform Trailhead.