How much do you invest in on-going training? Have you formulated a training plan with measurable outcomes? Are you serious about training and do your staff members see the value in it?
What you see in performance is tied directly to what you invest in training and teaching. This is, by far, the most important investment a restaurant can make in guest satisfaction, employee recruitment and retention, and positive financial performance. Yes, training is that important – yet, back to my original question – how much do you invest in ongoing training?
Beyond new employee orientation and a semi-annual staff update; more important than pre-meal and even a post meal review – real on-going training should be designed to yield significant improvement in employee performance, competence, and confidence: all of which leads to the outcomes that keep your restaurant firing on all cylinders.
The most significant challenge in building a training and teaching program is that most restaurants don’t know where to start, how to design a program that is deliverable, important, well-thought out, and measurable. Without effective knowledge, resources, planning and delivery – a program will falter and not yield the results you hope for. So, what might a program look like?
TWELVE WAYS TO BUILD A GREAT TRAINING PROGRAM
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME
Training is a two-way street. For it to be successful both the provider and the recipient must be “all-in” and cognizant of the benefits. For the provider, training can lead to more competent employees and in turn a better overall experience for the guest and enhanced performance for the operation. For the employee – training builds a portfolio of skills and knowledge that is always transferrable and the competence that results also leads to confidence and the ability to perform with less stress.
WHAT FORM IS BEST
Everyone learns differently so, just as is the case in school, the person delivering the material must adapt to a variety of ways to pass information along. In some cases, formal classroom time with the group works well; maybe a preparation demo along with a tasting is most appropriate; and sometimes one-on-one work with an employee is the method to use. One shoe will rarely fit everyone, so commit to training each individual on their own terms.
BECOME A LEARNING ORGANIZATION
A learning organization is one where shared information and “training buddies” is a natural state. Everyone has a responsibility to “pass it on” and share what they know. When knowledge and skill is an open book then the organization benefits as well as each guest.
MAKE IT FUN
In some cases, a person’s experience with formal education is information that doesn’t click. Assimilation is expected but not delivered in a manner that works for a particular individual, or simply of little interest to the recipient. The key to learning is interest and engagement. Whomever in your organization is tasked with facilitating learning must develop ways of making it fun. “Tell me, show me, engage me” has become a reminder of how education moves quickly from no retention to total engagement. Remember, many creative people in our industry are tactile learners. They assimilate best when they can physically perform the task. If the chef hopes to train a cook to properly fillet a whole fish, then simply demonstrating the process will rarely yield the right results. Put the knife in their hand and perform the work together. Let them “feel” how it’s done and build the muscle memory so that eventually they can master the job.
TREAT IT AS A BENEFIT
Surprisingly, very few restaurants know how to train or invest sufficient time and money in doing so. Those restaurants who develop the skill to teach should be attractive to serious cooks. In the interview process and throughout their tenure, make sure employees know that this is a significant investment on your part and something that is focused on building their value. This is one terrific tool that can help to retain good employees.
TREAT IT AS AN INVESTMENT
Great, effective training does cost money. It is, however, one of the best investments a restaurant can make. Consider contracting with a local culinary school to develop your training program, build teaching materials to support the program, and take the time to train the trainer. When your chef, manager, or food and beverage director has the tools and the knowledge to teach then the positive results will be measurable.
FIND WAYS TO MEASURE AND REWARD
Every student of learning loves to feel good about their accomplishments. Celebrate frequently: in-house certificates, learning bonuses, professional recognitions (their name embroidered on a chef coat, pins to wear on their jacket, recognition in employee newsletters, gift certificates, cookbooks, etc.) It need not be extravagant – but a $50 quality cookbook signed under the heading “congratulations” by the chef and management team is priceless.
LET EVERYONE KNOW
Share the positives with everyone. Make it known that this is a great accomplishment – something that everyone should strive for.
MAKE IT ACCESSIBLE
Ahh…but some of you will say: “We don’t have the time for this!” The answer to that is simple – you can’t afford not to train effectively. A lack of training will cost the operation in poor guest retention, high employee turnover due to stress, lack of team morale when an employee is unable to perform satisfactorily, and a damaged restaurant brand. If you fail to invest in training, then all these challenges will rear up their ugly head. Make sure every employee can engage even if part of the material must be relayed on-line.
Training is not a “one out” scenario. What is taught or delivered must be reinforced throughout the day and every day until it becomes part of the operation’s culture. When it is second nature then it will be embraced and shared.
MAKE IT PROFESSIONAL – FIND THE RIGHT PERSON TO DELIVER IT
As stated before – not everyone has the innate capacity to teach and train. Everything that you do through training should be of the highest caliber. Handouts, demonstrations and tastings, PowerPoint slide decks, and the person delivering the material must be top notch. If you can’t seem to handle it internally, then hire trainers who can. It’s that important!
BE THE PLACE TO WORK
Make your training program WORLD-CLASS. Be known as the place to work that invests in employee’s knowledge and skill. PLAN BETTER – TRAIN HARDER, it’s your competitive edge.