4 Tips For Shaping Apprentices Into High-Performers and Future Leaders
Apprentices are the future of our industry, and it is how they are shaped now that will impact the future success of your business. Whether you are hiring new apprentices or employees in general, here are a few core principles that you can follow to help your employees reach their full potential, perform at a “superstar” level and ultimately, help you prosper as a company.
- Lead by example
“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.” ~ Albert Einstein
Being a leader isn’t just being a good “boss”, it’s about being a good teacher and mentor to your employees. When you hire apprentices or employees, the most important thing you can do is lead by example. The way you lead and influence your employees will not only have an impact on their professional development but their personal development as well.
For instance, my first boss was an amazing leader and an amazing person. When I was an apprentice, he didn’t just teach me electrical, he taught me work ethics, life lessons and that “how you do one thing, is how you do everything”. By exemplifying this to your employees, you will shape the perspective they have about work in general. It’s not just about going to work, putting in your hours and collecting a check. It’s about taking pride in your work, doing it with integrity and doing the best work possible (even when no one is looking). This might be the single most important value I’ve ever learnt, so try to remember that phrase and put it to use in your everyday life!
- Teach, don’t tell
For me, while going through my apprenticeship, there were often times when I questioned: “Why the f*** am I doing this?”. And I guarantee you everyone has been there before! Teaching is one of the most important things you can do for your employees. For example, as the manager or foreman with lots of experience, you can look at a job and know exactly what needs to be done, from start to finish, each job, task, etc. Well, your apprentices don’t… This seems obvious but is very often overlooked. This generally leads to the upper hand giving orders saying “do this, do that” then the apprentice asking “okay, what next?” every 20 minutes. Once you start giving them the small, easy tasks, one by one with no sense of the “big picture” you are unintentionally setting them up for failure. Here are a couple of reasons why.
- They will only focus on that one task with no real understanding of why they are doing it and what the end goal of that task is. In that case, they won’t be learning anything that is improving their knowledge for the future.
- They will go into auto-pilot and focus solely on that one task when in reality, they should be visualizing everything that is going to be happening after that one task is complete.
The alternative approach to this would be to describe the job as a whole and then explain the sequence of tasks to complete the job. This is why the most important question that should be asked and answered is why. Once you have a sense of why, it allows your mind to think sharper, plan better, execute faster and learn with intention.
- Building trust and relationships
As a leader, you have to be aware that everything you say and do will be observed by those around you, more importantly, the people looking up to you. If you have a positive, go-getter attitude, it will naturally rub off on your employees. When people are happy, they work better, think clearer, and perform better. If you come off as “the grump” you will unintentionally instill fear in your employees and restrict them in their comfort zone which impedes their ability to grow and learn. You want your employees to feel comfortable around you and that they can ask you for advice without being judged or looked down at. Secondly, build relationships with your employees. Make them feel like part of the family, build a team culture that supports one another. Remember, teamwork makes the dream work!!
- Incentivize good work
This isn’t as common in our industry, but if you are already incentivizing good work, good on ya. This could be simple things like, team lunch on Friday’s, or leaving a half hour early if all the work for the day gets done. You might be thinking, well we’re throwing money away and eating into profits. Not true. If you have employees that are focused on getting the job done instead of just logging their 8 hours, you will see a noticeable boost in productivity, usually 1.5 to 2x (this is from personal experience and something that I would often do with my crew). It is a way to show your employees you value hard work, and that hard work will be rewarded!
At the end of the day, your employees are the backbone of your business and the way that they are coached, trained and developed can and will have a great impact on the success of your business, now and in the years to come.
I hope you were able to pull some valuable information from this post and will consider it next time you are looking at training apprentices and new hires! Thanks for reading, and if you are interested in looking at what we’ve built to help employee productivity out in the field, check out what we have to offer with Breez and try it out for free and see how we can help you!
-The Breez Team