Many years ago, I was training a group of rather belligerent transport managers who were unhappy about being told they were mentoring young apprentices. Arms were folded and faces set in stone. Training obviously had a pretty bad reputation in their neck of the woods. When I asked them what they wanted from the day, the first thing they said was they wanted clarity about which budget hours spent mentoring would come from. Ah.
I persevered in my usual upbeat style. I told them that my eighteen year old daughter had called me just as I was about to set off that morning. I mentioned she was studying for an engineering degree. I swear that a couple of eyebrows raised a millimetre or two. I started to recount the conversation, which went like this:
Katy: “What are you doing today Mum?”
Me: “I’m running some training on mentoring skills for managers that have been given apprentices. Have you got any advice for them?”
Katy: “Yep. Three things” (My Katy is a fast thinker!)
At this point, twelve managers simultaneously reached into their pockets for a pen and looked at me expectantly. I kid you not. If I had known how much impact a real young person would have, I could have got her to run the day!
Katy’s advice was this:
- Don’t think you understand what it is like. You don’t.
- Don’t tell me all about how you succeeded unless I ask. You’re not like me.
- Don’t try to fix my problems your way. I’m not like you.
As you can imagine, I’m a very proud parent – so much wisdom and understanding right there. It was a real wake up call for the delegates. The ice was broken and the day continued well with positive evaluations all round, saying the day had been good, useful and relevant . One said “Informative, supportive, at times mind boggling”!
I’ve just updated my Mentoring your Apprentice training materials to include consideration for Gen Z. Some of the issues young people face going into work are the same as they have ever been – they still need to navigate adolescence to arrive at adulthood – but they have been raised in a different world, so that needs taking into account.
If your organisation needs to equip its managers to support and develop apprentices, do get in touch.
You can see a course outline here