7 tips for supervising your apprentice

Are you considering bringing an apprentice or trainee into your business? There's a lot that an Apprenticeship Support Service provider can do to assist you through the process – specifically when it comes to supervision. If you've never conducted training before, it can be daunting to think that someone else's progression is in your hands. MAS National are in your corner, guiding you through your responsibilities as a workplace supervisor and helping to impart your wisdom and expertise to the next generation of workers in your industry.

Here are seven quick tips on supervising your apprentice.

1) Communicate clearly

Clear communication is integral to education, regardless of subject or proficiency of the learner. There's a lot more to communicating clearly than making sure your words and meanings are understood. In training situations you should aim to deliver one idea at a time rather than explaining a complex idea in its entirety straight off the bat. Furthermore, it's ideal to keep instructions concise – "short and sweet" instructions get the message across without distracting from the point.

How to communicate with your apprentice or trainee.Clear communication isn't just about being heard, it's about succinct instructions.

2) Don't skip over the small details

Even though your apprentice or trainee might have some experience in the job or even the industry, it's important to remember that they may have knowledge gaps you are unaware of. Because of this, it's better not to "skip over" any particular element in training. This is also an essential step for ironing out any bad habits an apprentice may have formed prior to beginning their professional training. If you approach training from a standpoint of "my apprentice has no experience in this field" then you can teach them best practice in your industry, from the smallest task to the largest.

3) Ask apprentices to reiterate your instructions

Asking questions throughout training is a useful strategy for ensuring that your lessons sink in. Having your apprentice or trainee reiterate your instructions in their own words helps them to reinforce what they have just learnt. They are not just doing as you instruct, but also thinking about the instructions you've given them for the task at hand. This allows your apprentice to organise the knowledge they've learned in a way that suits their own cognitive processes. Known as "the protege effect", this has been a useful method for learning and revision since the days of the ancient Greek philosophers.

How can "the protege effect" inform apprentice training?When an apprentice reiterates your instructions, it allows them to organise the information in their own way.

4) Provide regular feedback

It's important to offer ongoing feedback to your apprentices to keep them informed on their progress. How regularly you deliver feedback depends on the personality of your apprentice or trainee, as some learners rely on feedback or assessment more heavily than others. Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective means of establishing good working practices in your apprentice, so always be sure to let them know when they are doing a good job. Regular feedback also helps the apprentice or trainee identify their strengths as well as the job skills they need to develop further.

5) Teach the "how" but also the "why"

This may seem to contradict our first tip on clear and concise communication – but the two actually compliment each other. When you are explaining how to approach a particular task, it can be beneficial to also explain why this task is done in such a way. Of course, sometimes the "why" is clearly evident from the "how" but this is not always the case. So if you find yourself explaining why one approach is better than others, employ the same clear and concise communication you would use to explain the approach itself.

Why is it important to remove workplace distractions for apprentices?Eliminating distractions where you can helps your apprentice complete training in a timely manner.

6) Identify and eliminate distractions

Not all work places are created equally, and some are more prone to distractions than others. Further, different personality types can become distracted by different stimuli. During your apprentice supervision, you should pay careful attention to the things that are causing them to lose focus, and where possible remove these from the training environment. Your apprentice or trainee may be less productive at a certain time of day, and as such important lessons could be planned around this time. Look for patterns in productivity and play your new employee to their strengths.

7) Follow the training plan

Following the training plan is essential to keeping your apprentice or trainee on track to the final goal. A training plan is something that a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) will develop with your apprentice after they have been registered. This document outlines what training they will receive and when. Sticking to the training plan will ensure that the apprenticeship is completed within the desired period, ultimately leading to a happier employee.

We hope these tips have given you a good idea of what being a workplace supervisor involves. Working with MAS National means you have support for the duration of the apprenticeship, and we provide advice and support on training the whole way through. Tomorrow's industry relies on what we do today, and MAS National can help you train up future leaders. Get in touch today.