You only have to spend a few seconds in the company of my curtain rails to know that I’m not much of a DIY expert.
I’ve precious little wisdom and skill to pass on to my children in that department.
And yet my son can be a dab hand with the toolkit.
Where once he was the apprentice to my shambling attempts at being the master, now I hold the nails/screws/nuts/bolts while he gets on with the job in hand.
That he possesses such knowledge and confidence is in no small degree down to his late and very much-missed maternal grandad.
By a process of osmosis, my son picked up all kinds of skills from concreting to plumbing at the elbow of my father-in-law.
And he’s not unusual.
Grandparents play a hugely important role the world over in filling in the gaps of parenting, nurturing and teaching.
Although my age might exactly reflect that of the average MP in the 2015 election intake, I’m not yet old enough to have grandchildren of my own.
And yet, I like to think of my job as a bit like that of a grandparent. In fact, I used that line – presumably to good effect – at my interview a year ago.
Here’s why I – and I imagine trainers everywhere – are a bit like your grandad and grandma:
- We can give the quality time and occasional TLC that people’s line managers can struggle to find
- On that theme, I can deal with some of the boring stuff – from exam administration to tea-making
- After 30 years of experience in the industry, I hope I can usually put most day-to-day crises into perspective. Often my favourite putting-journalism-into-perspective quote, from onetime Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, will come in handy: “When the history of the world is written, this will not be in it.”
- We can get some unpalatable messages across for managers, in the spirit of the tough love grandad or grandma chats that have sorted out many a family tension down the years
- But we can also be the shop floor’s spokesman from time to time – carefully dropping the right ideas in the right ears at the right time.
- We (mostly) get the good bits: the rewarding training sessions, the one-to-one coaching, and the unexpected sounding board provision. Difficult disciplinary stuff is largely someone else’s responsibility.
- I am very proud of the people I work with – and hopefully I tell them that on a fairly regular basis. But I want them to be better every day.
- And finally, I bring sweets………
The other thing is that, like a grandad, I can go on a bit.
So I’ll shut up now, and you can stop having to indulge me.