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A Qualified Workforce: by Mark Priestman

6 July 2021
Mark Priestman

Mark Priestman is a Partner at Priestman Associates LLP, a leading façade preservation project consultancy, from stonemasonry and heritage skills through to site supervision and conservation management. The partnership is trusted by the leading brands of the sector as an NVQ provider for experienced, upskiller and apprentice workers. Tel. 07876 687212. [email protected].

Mark Priestman is a Director of a training consultancy whose mantra is: Qualify the Workforce! Here he discusses how managers can contribute more if they are given a MOTOR as well as a RAFT.

Director. It’s a straight forward enough job title. A director’s role is to direct a business, set its course and plot its milestones.

Then there is the manager. They manage. Additionally we have the supervisor, a title that comes from root words (super, visor) that suggest the thought of watching over what operatives are doing.

Of these three job titles perhaps ‘manager’ is the most underwhelming. It suggests that for the manager to reach their full potential they need to manage. Check out a thesaurus and you’ll be greeted by further comfort-zone verbs such as: coping, handling, surviving, enduring.

“What did you do at work today, love?”

“Oh, well, I coped!”

I vote for a new name for managers. How does ‘excellor’ or ‘exemplar’ sound?

Make that change (if not in their title then in job description themes and company ethos, at least) and all of a sudden they have something to live up to.

To be fair to managers, they didn’t choose the title. In fact, to be even fairer, they often are the heroic cog in any business, shouldering hefty responsibilities.

How can a business show it cares about its managers excellors?

Aside from all the essentials:

  • Respect
  • Assistance
  • Fairness
  • Terms and conditions of work

And, yes, the initials do spell out RAFT. Don’t get me wrong, rafts are great to keep you safe and dry as you await rescue, but they are a bit underwhelming if you want to get somewhere.

A key way to show we care is to look at continuous professional development (CPD):

  • Mentoring
  • Opportunity
  • Training
  • Organisation
  • Recognition

Do you like what I did there? These words spell MOTOR,️ which is useful when you want to get things moving.

The easiest yet most effective nurturing you can provide as a business is mentoring.

Change weekly progress meetings to mentoring sessions. The same points are on the agenda but the emphasis is adjusted.

It’s not a ‘hairdryer’ session about discovering errors that are already too late to rectify, but an opportunity for the more experienced to up-skill the people they work with.

A manager under mentorship will speak more openly. They will also indicate concerns, which can then be resolved by being identified earlier on.

The opposite of stretching a person is to contract their scope and vision. Opportunity is vital. We all have a need to grow and feel as though we are making progress. How do we give an employee this opportunity? If we are mentoring we increasingly step back. We avoid our own micromanagement and instead empower people, giving them opportunities that help them grow.

Training is vital and mentoring is part of training. As is providing opportunities. Training provides an opportunity for both informal and formal instruction and assessment. But make sure it’s the right kind of training. Check out the purpose and outcome of the training and make sure it isn’t only about ticking a box. It should strengthen the business and contribute to its growth.

Which brings me to the organisational ability to contribute to the growth of the manager.

There is little point in sending a manager away on a course if what they learn can’t then be incorporated into the systems and objectives of the business. That would just result in frustration.

Yes, the employee needs to add value to their role for the benefit of the business. But the role needs to add value for the employee as well. It works both ways. Recognition is vital and can be achieved through qualifications, appreciation, promotion.

Another important way of recognising a person and helping them grow could be to get them involved in trade associations such as Stone Federation, or professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Building.

There is no need to throw the RAFT️ out, but it will be much more useful if it has a MOTOR️ attached to it.

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