7b - Colleagues

 Workflow in the company
Some tasks are very individual. Other tasks can't be done by just one person; a team is needed.

But almost all work is dependent on colleagues or collaborators preparing, supporting or following up on the work of your apprentice.
  • Have you explained the workflow in your company to the apprentice?
  • Have you mentioned all the contacts and their purpose?
  • Have you told the apprentice which contacts have importance?
 Contact with colleagues

To have a good relationship and business dealings with colleagues, the apprentice needs to get to know them and understand their job functions.

Who are his/her colleagues, and what are their responsibilities and tasks? There are a number of aspects that promote a good relationship between the apprentice and his/her colleagues:

  • The extent to which the apprentice receives help from colleagues
  • Possibilities of learning from colleagues. (How accessible and helpful are colleagues? Is it appreciated, when the apprentice asks questions?)
  • The apprentice works regularly in a team
  • The apprentice works regularly with professionals
  • The apprentice job-rotates within the department
  • The extent to which the apprentice works in the community outside the company
  • How much contact the apprentice has to employees from other departments
  • Whether colleagues discuss technical problems with the apprentice
  • A focus on the apprentice and his/her training during discussions
  • Colleagues feel co-responsible for training
  • Colleagues keep in mind that the apprentice is still in training.

For the apprentice, it is important that colleagues also act as co-trainers and assessors. This includes transferring knowledge and skills, and assessing behavior and attitude. Colleagues act as reflectors, supervisors and providers of feedback.

Good collegiality in daily practice can be fostered by, for example:

  • Focus on specific interests
  • Attention to what the other has learned / can be taught
  • Attention given to illness / loss / social events / successes (private or work)
  • Seeing (eye contact) /observing / listening
  • Compliments about appearance or attitude
  • Sharing experiences
  • Expressing opinions about difficult issues
  • Asking how something can be resolved
  • Relating experiences or funny incidents
  • Feedback of good quality
  • Distinguishing between important issues and those less important
  • Taking initiatives towards cooperation
  • Offering coffee or tea 
  • Asking critical but constructive questions
  • Using humour to reflect on others' or own experiences
  • Checking up on matters of health and well-being
  • Aquaintance with each other's family matters
  • Relaxed social contact during breaks
  • Surprising each other with a compliment or treat
  • Making clear your appreciation of the apprentice's contribution in teamwork

In short: Take the student seriously and see him/her as a full colleague. In a good learning environment, there should be good teamwork. This is a valuable basis for learning.

 Attitudes towards teamwork

If the apprentice is to develop a professional attitude towards teamwork, you’ll have to explain to him/her the company's values first. This means that you will have to discuss the attitudes towards teamwork between colleagues and departments:

How do you help each other out in your daily work?

How do you help each other out when there are problems? These can be professional problems that need solving. But they can also be personal problems, where you give each other support.

Ask the apprentice what his / her ideas are on good teamwork and how he/she will contribute to it!

Encouraging teamwork is an excellent way to increase effectiveness and cooperation. Here are some tips to promote teamwork:

  • Provide trainers and trainees with objectives that are both attainable and challenging. Determine these objectives in consultation with them.
  • Tell employees what you expect of them in terms of teamwork. 
  • Keep everyone informed of decisions, events or plans that will affect them
  • Delegate as much as possible, so that everyone has responsibility and access to knowledge. 
  • Give individuals the greatest possible freedom within their responsibilities. Let them determine their own working methods, work pace and the steps to be taken, while at the same time ensuring that everyone knows who is responsible for achieving objectives or standards.
  • Place a clear link between efforts and rewards.
  • Encourage the team to work in planning, innovation, or give ideas to improve team performance.
  • Encourage the team to contribute to the apprentice's learning process and to treat him as a worthy team member.
  • Make it clear to the employees that they are responsible for their own success or failure.
  • Show your appreciation for the fact that your employees are good team players (in fact the whole team). When people do not get positive feedback on the way they work together, teamwork will not have positive value for them.
The strength of a collaborative team is unity, communication and collegiality. Each team member has his/her own role within the team and contributes to its uniqueness. A team where everyone can be themselves while contributing to a common purpose makes the equation: (1 +1 = 3).

If the training company is a temporary employment agency or other organisation intermediating between students and companies, it is not easy to determine whether the company gives attention to teamwork, and the apprentice's role in this. In these cases, you should contact the company for information.  
 Teamwork problems and preventing them
People are different and have different opinions about how a task should be done, how to behave towards each other or how to start a new project.

When you work together, sooner or later there are bound to be disagreements or conflicts.
Everyone has the responsibility of preventing conflicts from developing and escalating.
  • What can you do as a trainer, to prevent and solve a disagreement?
  • What can the apprentice do?
Example Frode Laursen A/S, terminal director (Denmark):
The terminal director, Jan, who is also responsible for storehouse apprentices, tries to track down conflicts before things go wrong: "A warning sign is when people are standing around in corners and talking in a certain way." Then Jan brings the situation up at an ”extraordinary meeting”, because ”you have to stop things like that before they go in the wrong direction”.

The meetings are used to find out what people are unsatisfied with. Together they try to find solutions. Because everyone is responsible!
 Cross-disciplinary teamwork
Most of us are trained in a specific profession.Traditionally, there have been rigid professional demarcations.

But today, customers expect more flexibility and faster service.

There is a tendency for professional demarcations to blur more and more. Distinctions between jobs and even trades have become less clear. This means that we are moving more and more into other professional areas, and others into ours.

Some companies organise their cross-disciplinary teamwork:
  • Colleagues from other departments act as advisors.
  • Internal company training takes place across departments.
  • Cross-disciplinary project groups work on larger orders.
  • Apprentices "visit" other departments to increase understanding.
How to integrate this phenomenon into basic training, is a complex issue that is being discussed in ministries, centres of knowledge, etc.

7 - Cooperation