How to Develop Your Management Apprentice on the Job
A management apprenticeship can give a new or existing member of staff a route to learn and grow as an asset to the organisation.
While they study their qualification to enhance their theoretical knowledge, they should also be learning on the job too. In this article, we’ll be helping you to develop your management apprentice through workplace activities.
One of the most important skills for a manager to have is to be able to lead effective communications. During meetings, they should be ready to flex these skills by exploring topics and collating opinions.
Apprentices can begin to take on this responsibility with support from their mentor. Learning about meeting planning, communication models and building authority will set these apprentices up for success.
If they’re an existing manager getting a formal qualification through an apprenticeship, then this gives them a chance to experiment with their newly-found knowledge.
Through their learning, they’ll come to understand how to get the most from their meeting time, so give them a chance to put this into practice! It can take confidence to interject and put the agenda back on track, but this is something that will grow along their journey.
Managers shouldn’t just understand their own department, they should also have knowledge of how other departments work too. This gives them key information on their internal workings and how other departments can have an impact on their own.
Within most organisations, different departments have shared tasks and communications. Getting to know the way that other departments handle requests makes the apprentice more likely to understand who to talk to or what may be holding up a key process.
Using secondments can give them temporary insight into other departments, which makes for a well-rounded manager. This can save a lot of miscommunication between departments, as they have a better understanding of how to work together.
Spending a few weeks in different roles and departments with other managers can really enhance your apprentice’s knowledge. Even existing managers may not have this kind of experience as they often won't have been given the opportunity - during the apprenticeship programme is a great time to enhance their knowledge too.
Teach Budget Management
Managers should have a good understanding of the budget that their department is given and how best to manage this. They should be aware of how staffing and other costs impact the budget that they have for their department.
Regardless of seniority, managers need to understand the financials of their sector. First-line managers should still understand the impact of overtime payments, advertising and other costs.
A working knowledge of key finances will serve your manager well, as they will be able to use this to inform their decisions going forward. During their off-the-job training, they’ll learn the theory behind managing finances, and practical knowledge will greatly reinforce this.
Ensuring that the department is well staffed allows it to run well, and this must be carefully managed. Without the right staffing levels, employees become stressed, internal stakeholder expectations aren’t met and budgets are not used appropriately.
This can be an issue of being under- or over-staffed, as both can have serious consequences for the business. Managers should have an understanding of the productivity of each member of staff, to estimate how many employees and how much time are required for a task.
There are nuances in this type of planning which can only be learned with time and experience. By working closely with a mentor, management apprentices can refine these skills to make effective decisions.
They should also get to grips with holiday entitlement and scheduling, as they’ll naturally come up against these responsibilities.
This can be a steep learning curve for a new manager, as they try to manage a plethora of holiday requests and responsibilities. With the right support, they can make objective decisions and find creative solutions to any issues they encounter.
Coach for Effective Communications
Being an effective communicator is a major part of what makes a good manager. The ability to deliver a message concisely, while still being understood, is honed through experience rather than theoretical learning.
With the right guidance, your apprentice can begin to understand how a manager should communicate and which modes are most appropriate. In the beginning, they may prefer email communications over face-to-face discussions, but you can coach them to understand the merits of both.
As a manager, it will be their job to take important messages and tasks then convert them into the best form of communication for their direct reports. Beginning to delegate these communications is a great way to develop your apprentice, with the appropriate guidance.
Monitoring Employee Morale
It’s essential for a manager to understand how their direct reports feel towards the company and their workload. Managers have a big role to play in making work life enjoyable for their direct reports; your apprentice should be aware of this.
Through their studies, they’ll learn all about the processes used to manage employees, and you can help them to assess when this is appropriate. Teaching your apprentice how to gauge and impact employee morale arms them with the tools that they need to implement their theoretical knowledge.
This can tie in with other processes, such as staff reviews, workload management and evaluation of financial rewards.
Identify and Develop Weak Areas
Whether your apprentice is an existing member of staff or you’ve come to know them through their apprenticeship, you’ll be able to identify their weak areas. Take an impartial look at their work and fit activities around their schedule to strengthen any weaknesses you spot.
A strong mentor should be available to teach the apprentice throughout their learning journey and make them aware of what competency looks like in your organisation. This is a key part of the learning journey and part of what makes developing talent in-house so valuable.
As well as your observations, you can also use feedback from the apprentice’s direct reports. This will help to build up a full view of what they should be working on and how you can support them in becoming a better manager.
With the right training and support, management apprentices can take new challenges in their stride. Effective managers are a huge asset to any organisation and they can have a big influence on the happiness of their direct reports.
Using apprenticeships to grow your own management talent has a multitude of advantages, from reduced wage bills to skillsets that are tailored to your organisation's needs. When you fully commit to your apprentice's on-the-job development as well as their off-the-job training, your organisation will reap the benefits for years to come.