Accidental apprenticeship in the business world

Nov 08, 2019 |Posted by Jared Simmons | Coaching

Apprenticeship happens whether you like it or not–even in an office environment. New hires are as impressionable as toddlers and need to see people doing great work early and often in their careers. They are forming habits, value judgments, and prejudices about other functions and departments. Most of all, they are being shown the quality of work it takes to be successful in that environment.

Are your top employees working on your best teams or your biggest problems?

Who are your new employees working for?

What habits are they picking up?

What are they learning about how things really get done in your organization?

How to make apprenticeship work for you

Just as you wouldn’t leave a child in an environment where they’d learn bad habits, you shouldn’t leave your new hires with just anyone who happens to be understaffed. Here are a few suggestions for ways to ensure your new hires are in a positive environment that fosters growth and retention.

  • Have designated people in your company who get the new hires–literally transfer people internally to fill needs in other departments and only bring people into positions reporting to those you trust to “raise” your newbies.
  • Train people to see it as a sign of the quality of their work and their ability to manage others. Publicly reward them for it. You’ll get better trained new hires and managers will look to improve in the areas that merit consideration for a new hire (and the rewards that come with it).
  • Collect feedback from your new hires often–not only about whether or not they’re having a good experience (though that is important). The key questions here are: How confident do you feel in your ability to do your work? How many people do you feel comfortable asking for help? Have you performed a new job task independently in the last 30 days? Checking in on these areas on a monthly basis will let you know whether they are being effectively apprenticed in their work.

Why effective apprenticeship matters

You spent significant time, effort, and money to find the perfect person to bring into your company. Continue that investment beyond the onboarding process to ensure you get the return you’re hoping for.

How do you set new employees up for success?

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Jared Simmons

Jared is the founder of Outlast Consulting LLC, a consulting firm that helps individuals and organizations with strategy, process improvement, and professional development. He is an engineer by training with experience in market research, product development, innovation, management consulting, and strategic planning at P&G, McKinsey, and Coca-Cola.


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