Managing apprentices: being a good manager to an apprentice

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Managing an apprentice is the way by which a person in a management position handles apprentices who probably have no experience in the workings within a workplace setting. The management of an apprentice involves the improvement of their basic skills while also guiding them to achieve better results both in individual projects and the company's day-to-day activities. Learning about this can help you better utilise the skills of your apprentice in the workplace. In this article, we discuss apprenticeship management, the relationship between managers and apprentices and a guide to being a good manager to apprentices.

What does managing apprentices mean?

When managers focus on managing apprentices in the workplace, they get the best out of their apprentices. They do this by giving constant feedback to the apprentices on what they're doing right or wrong. The managers develop a conducive environment that increases the desire for apprentices to come to work daily, giving them tasks within their capacity and assisting them where necessary. You're to remember that these apprentices are still learning and can frequently come to you for aid.

As a manager, be sure to monitor the mental state of the apprentices. You're to guide apprentices to achieve set goals successfully by training them to get enough inspiration, be active and keep their focus on achieving goals. Selecting the right manager is just as important as hiring the right apprentice for a company and that's because they're the ones that bring out much potential from the apprentices while also maintaining successful projects within the organisation.

The relationship between managers and apprentices

The role of the manager is an important one for the apprentice. It's important to establish a good relationship from the beginning. Some of the qualities necessary for a manager to possess to have a reasonable relationship between them and their apprentices are:

  • be willing to change based on the needs of the apprentice.

  • have confidence and charisma as a manager.

  • be goal-oriented and wish for the apprentices to reach set goals.

  • guide faltering apprentices back to achieving the set goals.

  • develop a positive culture of harmony and hard work in the workplace, reward successes and constructively correct mistakes.

  • connect apprentices to areas and people that improve their abilities and confidence which, in turn, leads to increased productivity.

Apprenticeship management requires the manager to have a high level of emotional intelligence and a strategic mindset that's capable of seeing the end goal as more important than inconveniences. If you like to teach and train people, you can be an apprenticeship manager as it improves your interpersonal skills.

Related: A guide to managing effectively (and why it's important)

Understanding your apprentice

Understand that not all apprentices fit into the same class. This isn't just for the individual level, but even as categories, not all apprentices fit the same subgroups as there are new and old apprentices. The way you handle a new employee that's an apprentice is to differ from how you manage an old one in the workplace. Know that newer or younger apprentices need more help and patience from their superiors.

Empathy and understanding are crucial in this relationship, as apprentices may make mistakes and look to you for solutions. It's better to lead by example, this includes coming early to work, being concise and frequent in your communication both in person or via texts and giving them ways to successfully achieve goals.

Being a good manager to experienced apprentices

If the apprentice working with you has previous work experience, it may not be necessary to supervise them as closely. This allows apprentices to progress and be independent. Note also that some of these apprentices might still need close monitoring. Furthermore, there are situations where it's necessary for you to involve yourself in some projects if they have a lot of work or a strict deadline.

Easing your apprentices' workload can prevent them from suffering burnout or getting sick. Below are some of the ways you can help your experienced apprentice to better utilise their talents in the workplace:

  • be sure to identify tasks in order of priority

  • make yourself accessible during heavy or complex tasks

  • find out what areas give each apprentice pressure and train them in overcoming those areas

  • give them younger employees to work under them and help to ease their workload

  • allow the apprentice to have the necessary breaks for them to have enough relaxation

  • provide them with the organisational resources which they can use to manage their tasks or projects

  • train them specially on skill improvement

Related: Managing workplace change (with helpful tips and examples)

How to support your apprentice

In supporting apprentices, having a high level of awareness can be helpful. Notice their mental and emotional state because it helps you identify problems before they affect the quality of work. Below are ways you can assist new apprentice:

1. Teach them to manage time wisely

As a manager, it's important to balance allocating work to the apprentice, while encouraging them to learn how to manage their own time and prioritise tasks. This can mean instilling the importance of good time management to the apprentice. You can also give them opportunities to practice their time management skills and observe their progress and whether or not they complete the necessary tasks in the allocated time.

2. Allow study leave

Usually, apprentices have an entitlement to a maximum of eight days of paid study leave annually. Be flexible and considerate, letting them have time to learn at home in addition to the practical learning they get in the office. This can encourage them to have study groups outside the office.

3. Aid them in their work

You can do this by offering them task management tools and giving necessary input from time to time. Allow them to have some free time so that they have more time to rest. Aiding their work can be by just reducing their workload and probably their stress level.

4. Try to make other employees more considerate

Ask older apprentices to calmly guide the new and inexperienced ones when they make mistakes. Also, encourage apprentices when they fail at something and explain to the employees why you allocated some of your time to teach and train the apprentices. Educate employees not to treat apprentices as interns.

5. Take note of their mental and emotional state

Sometimes, working while studying might not be easy, so try to keenly observe their mental and emotional state. Apprentices have lives beyond the workplace. If they come to you with a problem or you notice an issue, be empathetic and assist in getting a solution.

6. Let them be part of the activities

Involve them as much as possible in the typical day-to-day workings. With this, they can get a great view and experience of how things work both in and out of the office. Additionally, involve them in the extra-curricular activities so that they can build great interpersonal relationships with the other staff members. This also improves their networking abilities.

7. Know when to allow them to be independent

As a manager, ascertain the best time to allow apprentices to do things by themselves as it makes them independent. It gives them the opportunity to show and practice what they've learnt. It reveals areas where the apprentices need improvement and you can help by using a different approach to teach or train them.

Related: Successfully managing a team: 10 strategies you can use

Challenges to overcome in apprenticeship management

The following are challenges that managers are to surmount in the workplace:

  • Company's culture: Ensure the working environment is conducive for all staff members such that there's fairness, equality and consistency. As a manager, understand the company's procedures and policies, lead by example and ensure all team members work towards achieving the set goals.

  • Underrating: Everyone in the organisation is to be aware that the apprentices aren't interns, so, staff members aren't to treat them as such. Apprentices are to do jobs that contribute to their job duties and avoid menial jobs that are irrelevant to their roles.

  • Discouragement: Encourage apprentices that face opposition and guide them on ways they can succeed in their education. All staff members are to value them and treat them accordingly.

Characteristics and qualities of an apprenticeship manager

The following characteristics and qualities assist managers in apprenticeship management:

  • be inspirational and have foresight

  • be confident

  • set good examples for all staff members

  • be resilient to the needs of the apprentices

  • ensure that apprentices focus on the set goals

  • consistently motivate the apprentices

  • connect apprentices with people that aid their improvement

  • have great interpersonal skills

  • be a strategic thinker

  • know when and how to take effective and efficient actions

  • have emotional intelligence

  • be patient

  • have good organisation skills

  • know how to work with a team

  • learn how to delegate the necessary task

  • be a good listener

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