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Home / Life Posts / Craig Byers, Rail Assistant Manager

Craig Byers, Rail Assistant Manager

As an assistant manager my role involves both handling internal matters and dealing with customers in equal measure. I’m responsible for everything from providing costings for customers and maintaining our high standards of quality in all our operations, to organising any training or development requirements and supporting staff with work or personal issues.

Each morning starts with a team brief to help us all keep on top of the various jobs and priorities we have in that week. On a Friday I usually put together a plan for the following week to relay to the team on a Monday, but we run night shifts and our customers operate 24/7 so plans and priorities can change overnight.

One of the things I have learned over the years is the importance of building relationships, both with customers and with your team. Customers know they can contact me at any point in the day, whether I’m at work or at home. I’m happy to take on that responsibility I know how important it is to communicate with customers and build up trust to make sure we deliver the best quality service we possibly can.

A few years ago I would have said the most difficult part of the role was managing people; resolving any issues and making sure they are motivated and happy. That’s something I’ve learned to do as I’ve progressed. I would like to think that my team feel they can be open and honest with me, that way I can give them the support they need. We’re all part of a team and that is what’s important; I’m in the office helping to plan but it’s the team on the shop floor that are doing the jobs and delivering fantastic results – I’m just there to guide.

Nowadays, I would say the most difficult part of my job is fitting it all in! Most days are back-to-back, and they can be unpredictable too. It can be stressful but it is rewarding too, and I make sure to share our successes with the team.

Sometimes I miss being hands-on and having chance to work on motors on the shop floor. However, I still have those skills and sometimes I will be asked for help, or I will pitch in and lend a hand when we’re really busy. I know I can trust the team to maintain our high standards without having to watch over them. We have an open door policy and they will come to me if they need to.

I started at Houghton International as an apprentice and I still remember being impressed by the skills and the knowledge of my mentor on my first ever job. This inspired me and right from the start I knew I wanted to progress so I kept pushing for the opportunities. In a way I’ve grown with the business – as our workload has increased and the size of the business has increased with it, I’ve taken the opportunity to take on more responsibility. I’ve seen so many of my colleagues also progress to management roles and even directors; it’s clear the opportunities are there.

It’s hard to pick just one achievement from my career that stands out – even picking one per year would be difficult! Completing my apprenticeship and my Higher National Diploma are both stand-out moments, and I’m proud to have reached my current role too. I also get a lot of satisfaction when I’ve played a part in apprenticeships and training in my team and I see them go on to become qualified. Their achievements are my achievements and I will work and with them and provide any support they need to succeed.

Once I’ve mastered this role I expect I’ll be hungry for more. I’ve still got a lot to learn but I know I will have the support to keep developing myself and my team. I tell our apprentices that it’s their future in their hands, and it’s up to them what they want to make of it. I try to live by that as well.

For anyone interested in progressing to a role like mine I would advise them to be open and honest, whether it’s about their ambitions or their struggles. We will give you the help and support to get where you want to be, but to do that we have to work together. If you work hard and show that you want to succeed, it will be noticed.

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