When someone says they want to be a plumber is it true? Or is it that they have perceptions about plumbers and plumbing that they want satisfied.
So why not ask them why they want to be a plumber. The last time I did this the young man I spoke to told me it was because plumbers get to move around from job to job, often worked alone, and were more independent than factory workers.
As we delved in to this we started to explore other careers where people worked alone and were more self reliant than a factory worker and suddenly this young man’s horizons opened up beyond plumbing, beyond construction and embraced hundreds of other potential careers.
Sometimes you have to listen to the words that are unsaid as much as the ones that are voiced.
In much the same way that young people make claims that they want to be plumbers or hairdressers employers can also lay a false trail. I remember many years ago an employer telling me he wanted several managers to go on a project management course because they couldn’t achieve their objectives. It seemed quite straight forward until I delved deeper . I asked how their lack of achievement was being measured against his instructions and it starte4d to transpire that his instructions, even for quite complex projects were never in writing and were often delivered by phone as he drove up the motorway between client meetings.
The reality was that the mangers often had no idea what was required of them and were therefore failing. Dealing with this sensitively required a high level of tact but at the end of the day the boss mastered giving detailed instructions and the managers delivered against them.