Good communication is the bedrock of any successful organisation. As business leaders, the ability to convey a message, set clear expectations and inspire team members is crucial to creating a culture of positivity and belief. And it must be evident from any new team member’s first engagement with the company.

Apprentices are naturally eager and expectant when they first arrive in your organisation. They are at the beginning of an exciting new chapter of their lives in a career they have chosen. Capturing and embracing that enthusiasm is the responsibility of leaders and mentors.

Positive communication and goal setting will allow the apprentice to learn, grow and flourish. In turn, this will help both the individual and the organisation achieve their targets.

But what does good communication look like in the eyes of a fresh apprentice?

From a line manager or mentor’s point of view, good communication starts before an apprentice even arrives on site. Providing clear instructions about when and where to arrive, what to bring and other relevant information will show an apprentice that they are important to the organisation. It will also ensure that they turn up fully prepared and ready to get started.

On their first day, whoever is designated the role of greeting them should understand the importance of making a positive first impression and welcoming the new starter in a way that ensures they feel a valued member of the team – not a burden.

From there, positive communication means making sure your apprentice is given clear instructions, challenging but achievable targets and regular feedback. Often, this involves dedicated 1-2-1 time on a weekly or monthly basis that includes two-way communication and honest discussion about performance and wellbeing. It’s important that your apprentice leaves that meeting understanding what is expected of them. But it’s equally important that they have an opportunity to raise any concerns.

In many cases, issues raised by an apprentice may seem small to you. But it’s important to realise that, if they have felt it important to mention, it’s something that matters to them. We all understand how even trivial matters can fester and play on our minds. So, it’s vital that you show empathy and give the matter due respect. Tackling their issue early will demonstrate that you have their back, prevent it from escalating and ensure your apprentice is able to focus on the job. It will also give them confidence to speak up and know their voice will be heard – an invaluable facet of good team building.

With the right culture in place and apprentices who are happy at work, you are perfectly positioned to maximise their efforts for mutual benefit. Once again, this relies on your ability to connect with people. Regardless of the industry you work in, you will need to balance (often mundane) SOPs with inspiring your team to hit their targets. This requires you to set clear targets while also managing expectations about how they are achieved.

Frequent planned communication (morning meetings, 1-2-1s etc), along with the opportunity for ad-hoc contact as required, ensures nothing is misinterpreted or ignored and focus remains on the most important aspects of the job.

And, of course, with apprenticeships, you must also factor in off-the-job training. This is a crucial part of an apprentice’s development as it extends and expands their skill set. It should also allow them some level of autonomy. In 1-2-1s, speak to them about what most interests them about the role and what aspects of it they would most like to find out more about. But recognise that their enthusiasm may well be tempered with a lack of knowledge or experience. So, encourage them to take an interest in aspects of the role they haven’t yet been exposed to or which they find challenging or intimidating. Because you never know when inspiration might strike.

Taking on apprentices and integrating them into your team is a great way to mould passionate individuals into the model team members of tomorrow. Getting them engaged in your organisation and way of doing things will help intrinsically link them to it – inspiring a sense of ownership and loyalty. This way of recruiting and building your team is proven to be more economical than other methods. And the ROI on training is well-documented.

As with all aspects of growing your business, this requires investment. And while there may be some financial outlay, the most important thing is to invest time in apprenticeships. For many business leaders, this can be the most challenging aspect. But the long-term benefits of taking on apprentices far outweigh any short-term investment strategies.

Richmond provides Skills Coaches to help and guide apprentices through their training and development in line with the needs of the organisation. Working with clients to create bespoke training packages, we take on the training, mentoring and adequate recording side of apprentice development.

To talk to us about a personalised training and development package and requirements; get in touch.

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