Engagement and working to a set of values is the key to creating a proactive and productive apprentice. Our university values should be used to help develop a positive working ethos for your apprentice and within your team:
Apprentices, by their very nature, are ambitious. They will have signed up to complete an intensive training and development package, whilst holding up a full time job.
As their apprenticeship progresses they will be working towards developing mastery in their chosen occupation.
To achieve mastery the apprentice must apply their new knowledge and skills, receive constructive feedback on their work, and elevate themselves by building on successes and learning from their mistakes (yes, we all make mistakes).
Managers and mentors should provide opportunities for the apprentice to put new skills into practice, give feedback, and continually increase the level of challenge to keep their apprentice motivated and engaged.
Work should be meaningful and challenging. In order for an apprentice to fully utilise their knowledge and skills, apprentices should be given work that pushes the envelope of their capability – nudging them out of their comfort zone.
Mentors and managers should share team goals, offer guidance where required and support the apprentice through this process. Be careful not to micromanage, give the apprentice enough autonomy and empowerment for them to benefit from the experience.
To help increase apprentices autonomy they should be involved in decision making for their work. An apprentice will then feel more in control of their tasks and will thrive. It also demonstrates trust within the team.
Share your reasons behind your decisions and keep to your word. Building trust and honesty are important to effective collaboration.
Providing a culture of trust and high performance will give enable a positive working environment and will help you attract and retain talent.
Collaboration and teamwork go hand in hand. We are fortunate to have widespread subject matter experts within our teams – collaborate with them to add value to your work.
By everyone knowing the direction of travel and working together towards an institutional vision we can achieve great things. If we are all working towards the same aim we can use the power of our community spirit to deliver excellence.
Understanding how individuals, teams, departments and services can work together will enable your apprentice to develop community spirit.
Communication is key to working as a community, especially as there is no monopoly on good ideas – some of the best ideas come from the ‘shop floor’ and interactions with customers and colleagues.
Cultivate a sense of ownership over work and give praise where praise is due.
Sometimes it can be hard to know if you are doing a good job, or if the work you are doing is going unnoticed. Spontaneously show appreciation and recognition for a job well done. This can be informally or through our “Above and Beyond” staff recognition scheme. A simple “thank you” goes a long way!
Often people don’t realise how important their work is, and how it benefits the wider University. A simple work around to this could be for the apprentice to see how their work is being used. This may be a mechanical device being used by a research group, the outcome of a report, or most effectively feedback from their ‘customer’ (albeit a student, academic, professional services, contractor, or visitor).
Apprentices and mentors should approach their work thoroughly and carefully, paying attention to detail.
Our academic colleagues and students expect us to provide meet their expectations of high quality support to research and teaching. This requires critical thinking, a proactive approach to completing tasks, reasoning skills, and being honest about our capabilities.
In a culture of continuous improvement, apprentices should question and challenge processes and procedures to improve the way we all work. We should not accept that “this is the way things have always been done” as an answer.