Nic Bittle, author, founder of Work Force Pro, and an adviser to contractors that want to prepare their workforce for effective leadership, led this morning’s high-energy session “Developing Foreman into Mentors.” Based on principles from his book Good Foreman, Bad Foreman, Bittle, who is also a beekeeper and proud native of Corn, Okla., discussed the challenges faced by companies when it comes to recruiting and/or promoting existing employees to leadership positions and teaching them the skills to mentor those who may someday take their place.

What You’re Doing Wrong

According to Bittle, successful foreman must teach four core competencies that many of today's young people lack:

  1. Communication (i.e., verbal and nonverbal)
  2. Self-leadership (i.e., personal responsibility and integrity)
  3. Professionalism (i.e., understanding what’s appropriate in the workplace)
  4. Entrepreneurship (i.e., “thinking like a boss”).

Bittle says that although most companies educate their foremen or journeymen to train apprentices, the majority of them are making three mistakes when it comes to their current training models:

  • Offering training only once or twice a year instead of on a regular basis.
  • Using a “seminar in the classroom” approach to teaching.
  • Expecting foreman to “drink through a firehose” by overloading them with too much information in too little time, which doesn’t allow time for the information to soak in.

Bittle then asked attendees to estimate how many man hours are lost each year to poor communication, conflict, and tardiness/absenteeism. The resulting number was staggering, to say the least.

It’s OK to Be a DRIP

To help counter these unproductive practices, Bittle recommends supplying D.R.I.P. information:

  • Slow
  • Consistent
  • Deliberate
  • Reinforced

In addition, he recommends five steps you can take to help develop a successful mentorship program within your company:

  1. Get your foreman involved.
  2. Identify what tools your foreman need to develop their crew.
  3. Provide them with the tools needed to succeed.
  4. Set it and forget it.
  5. Don’t put it off.

The bottom line is that by employing Bittle's methods you may increase your company's bottom line.