Apprentices are constantly learning and growing over the course of their training, with new professional goals in their sights.
As a manager or mentor, it’s up to you to provide them with the training they need to become the best employee they can be. Teaching them how to manage is a nuanced process, as you want to ensure that their management style gels with the company culture.
To achieve these lofty goals, part of their training should include regular reviews to motivate and educate the apprentice. You’re teaching them through experience and feedback, which should complement their formal off-the-job training.
The staff review that you give to the apprentice should also be a great example, so that they can follow this blueprint for their own direct reports in the future.
Here are our best practice tips for conducting reviews with management apprentices…
Give them Time to Prepare
A staff review should never come as a surprise to an apprentice, or to a regular member of staff! When you invite an apprentice to a staff review, you want to impress upon them that this is a dialogue, not just a chance for you to speak.
In order for them to make the most of this opportunity, you want to give them time to think about what they want to discuss. Some management apprentices may be new to the world of work, so consider how you can support them in deciding what’s appropriate to discuss.
You may want to provide them with a template to fill out ahead of the review. This could involve an element of self-assessment, which helps to eliminate any discrepancy between their performance and your expectations.
What does it mean for your apprentice to be great at their job? Defining the competencies that you expect from a management apprentice is essential if you want them to be able to meet these goals. Without this context, they may struggle to understand what qualities you want to foster within them.
If your apprentice was an existing member of staff before endeavouring on this training, they may never have viewed a job description with an explanation of these competencies. This is an easy oversight to make, fortunately you can also rectify this swiftly.
It’s important to be specific when discussing performance in a staff review. Don’t just speak in hypotheticals, use real-world examples to back up what you want to see. Think of times the apprentice has demonstrated the behaviour you want them to change, then coach them on the improvements that you want to see.
If you’re using hypotheticals or vague feedback, then it’s much harder for the apprentice to think about times that you want them to action this.
Creating a culture of openness can be easier said than done, but you can start this off during this process. This is a formal environment where you’re giving the apprentice to give feedback, not just to receive it.
Therefore, it’s essential that you handle this feedback well. If you don’t then your apprentice will believe you’re only asking for feedback as lip service, which will also impact how they manage others.
Even if you don’t agree with the feedback, it’s important to keep a cool head and get to the bottom of the issue.
Check in Formally and Informally
As well as these formal reviews, you also want to check in on your management apprentice informally too. This can be as a result of a particular action or when you want to coach them on an issue.
Using difficult moments in the workplace as a prompt to teach can give the apprentice more experiential learning opportunities. Coaching the apprentice can be as simple as questioning why they would take a certain approach and suggesting a more appropriate approach in future.
As a mentor, you should foster a communicative relationship with your mentee. You should be flexible and open with your approach, as this will allow the apprentice to learn more from you through questioning.
Assess Academic Progress
As your apprentice studies, they will have assessments and milestones to pass. Check in with your apprentice to understand how their studies are progressing and how you can support them through their development.
The apprentice should be mostly self-directed with their studies and work with their tutor to set academic goals. You can also become involved in this process to ensure that the apprentice has enough time in their schedule to complete their studies.
As most apprenticeships take upwards of a year to complete, you want to ensure that the apprentice is steadily progressing along their educational journey.
If your apprentice is a younger person, then you also have a responsibility to keep them safe. Using regular reviews can open up this communication channel, so they can come to you if there are any issues that they want to speak about.
These can be issues from the workplace or outside of it. Any issues that the apprentice brings to you should be handled delicately and actioned to protect their safety.
Finally, as you come to the end of any performance review, you want to set realistic goals that you want the apprentice to achieve. These can touch on areas for improvement outlined in your review; think about actionable goals that you can monitor in the run-up to the next review.
If the review has been mostly positive, then these could be academic goals or new responsibilities. Checking in on these goals will help to ensure the apprentice is making good progress in between reviews.
Remember, it’s your job as a mentor to educate and develop your management apprentice into a valuable asset.
With the right guidance, a management apprentice can go onto be an excellent leader. Educating and developing their talents can be rewarding, both for their mentor and the organisation.
If you’re considering bringing in a management apprentice, give them the tools to complete their qualification online flexibly. We offer two distinct management apprenticeships, so you can offer the most appropriate one to new or existing members of staff.