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Site managers can step up to leadership given the right training

How do you get site managers - who may not have had any kind of formal teaching since they were teenagers - to be leaders?

Courses must be as relevant as possible to the people taking part. Many won’t have been in a classroom for years and the ultimate aim should be to make them feel like they’re not in a classroom. Their time is precious, so we need to be efficient with it.

Each chunk of learning should have a practical element and case studies that relate to what they do ‘on the job’. Split it out into three sections: arm them with information at a desk, try what they’ve learnt out with a practical ‘how to do’ exercise, then look at how we can use those lessons on site.

Working in teams helps too. Try getting each person to be team manager in an exercise, and theme them around management skills like planning, negotiation, or how to deal with difficult people. Use role play to engage people and help them get the most out of the exercise.

Line managers should follow up once people have been on the course and provide ongoing feedback – showing praise when due.

Try to instil into them that it’s everyone’s role to motivate others and create the right environment, not just senior management.

What site managers do is actually in management territory and their confidence is boosted when they realise this. They’re often keen to hone their leadership skills and become more technically competent in that area. It’s our job to equip them with the right skills and qualifications to lead and engage their teams - after all, you are only ever as good as your workforce.

Top tips for becoming a leader:

  • Think about your best boss and your worst boss and behave like the best one
  • Do unto others as they would have done to them
  • Think in terms of acts of leadership - not leaders
  • You earn trust by giving it
  • Example is all. Inspire respect from the people who work for you
  • People make mistakes. Back them up.

Alison Ashworth-Brown is head of NG Bailey’s Engineering Academy

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