By Whitney Reid Pennell, President, RCS Hospitality Group
Training is not something you did; training is something you do.
Very often we make the mistake of thinking that we told or showed someone what to do once and now they are ‘trained’, or that after 2 – 4 shifts ‘shadowing’ someone, they are ready to work without any further training needs... but that’s not exactly how it works. The first time someone hears the message is mostly exposure and awareness, the second time starts the training, and by the eighth time or so they hear the repetitive message, it really begins to stick.
Very often we put our most untrained employees is the most critical roles – customer facing – without adequate training on dealing with customers as well as the ‘how-to skills’ needed to be successful. Consider this: 82% of customers in the United States said they stopped doing business with a company due to poor customer experience (source: CTS.com). Further, 77% was a reaction to rude staff, 55% was due to issued not being resolved in a timely manner, and 51% was the result of unknowledgeable staff. How do you insulate yourself from those statistics? By putting investment into your training!
We train to produce change in knowledge (critical thinking, decision making), skills, or behavior. To produce lasting change, training must be frequent, consistent, and delivered in ways that are digestible and easily understood by a subject matter expert.
Each aspect of training is different based on the expected result or the end objective, but it is something critical to the success of any team and any company. Without consistency and a customer-centric attitude by every employee, the service standards decline. With declining standards comes loss of customers, then loss of revenue, then loss of profits, capital projects, etc.
One of the great benefits of training is the team cohesiveness it brings through clarity of mission and sense of purpose to the staff. Training provides a dedicated focus to the employee(s), which in turn makes them feel appreciated by the company’s leadership and a sense of being part of the bigger picture – in short, the employee feels like what they do matters. Without this recognition, the ‘cream of the crop’ do not stay long and those who need training the most begin to act out to achieve some attention.
As we come out of the COVID19 shutdown, unemployment will be in double digits, sometimes projected as high as 30%. To attract top talent, companies will have to compete for them. One of the top motivating factors for a job applicant when choosing an employer is opportunities for growth and development. That means ongoing training to meet both personal and professional goals.
As you prepare to expand services or bring on new staff or returning staff, here are my top 10 best practices for training to impact your overall service culture.
Hire right. It is easier to train someone whose values and ethics match those of the facility. You can teach a nice, naturally hospitable person to be a good golf shop attendant, but it will be more difficult to teach a shop attendant to be hospitable and nice to the team and customers if it does not come naturally to him/her.
Have a solid onboarding program. Make their first day count - they are never more excited, malleable, and trainable than on the very first day of employment. Studies show that the highest turnover occurs within the first 30 days of employment due to poor onboarding or a poor job match in hiring. Why spend valuable time and resources to find a great employee and then not take the time to onboard them for lasting retention?
Select and train good trainers. Not every good employee will be a good trainer and the overall training experience can make or break your team. Good trainers must have the respect of their team and BE respectful to others; he/she should be compassionate, knowledgeable, patient, and enthusiastic. Once you select your trainer, teach him or her how to be a good trainer building on those natural skills and abilities.
Use blended learning. People retain information differently, whether it is reading information (service manuals), writing down what they are taught (taking notes), watching how a task is completed (on the job learning), or discussing a work process while they perform the duties (interactive training). Did you know people will retain 90% of what they actively do while they are discussing what they are doing? Work hard to keep training interactive, engaging and fun!
Provide consistent tools and resources to do the job correctly and efficiently. If the employees have to search for equipment to complete routine tasks, this will lead to frustration, which ultimately affects morale and service to your customers. Watch what ‘work-arounds’ show up or if/when shortcuts are taken in the processes outlined. These are likely indicators of missing tools and resources needed to perform the job correctly and consistently. Be a good coach/manager. Use the techniques of great sports coaches – build on strengths, review actions and correct immediately through daily coaching; encourage people to do their best; and recognize them for a good job – every day. Recognize teachable moments and use them.
Follow up and follow through. If the staff brings something to your attention about a member situation, teammate, or resource needed, please listen; ask questions for understanding, and take appropriate and swift action. As a manager, sometimes the employees need you to clear away barriers for them or help them do their job better.
Be realistic about your training goals. Very often training fails because we bite off more than we can chew or are unrealistic about how much time we have to develop and deliver training. Ask yourself a few questions: Do you have the time to dedicate to your training goals? Do you have the resources to conduct training in the manner you desire? Do you have the foundation in place to have a successful training program?
Use a training plan. Once you determine your objective, use a training plan to get organized and keep you focused. We use the ADDIE process: Analyze your needs, Design content and best delivery method, Develop materials, Implementation, and Evaluate effectiveness based on original objectives.
Model the behavior you want. If you want to create a team of leaders, you must model the behavior you want from them. Your actions speak much louder than your words, so keep in mind that as a leader, how you handle situations and how well you follow your own standards is being noticed.
Within each of these 10 steps there are likely 100 more, but this list will be a good start to get your training off the ground and delivering the results you want!
Whitney Reid Pennell, president of the RCS Hospitality Group, is a celebrated management consultant, educator, and speaker. RCS, the creators of Food and Beverage Service Boot Camp™ and founding sponsor of the NGCOA Hospitality Center, specializes in operations consulting, strategic planning, food and beverage management, and training programs for public and private clubs, fine dining restaurants, and luxury resorts and hotels. For more information, phone (623) 322-0773; or visit the RCS website at www.consultingRCS.com.