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Managing efficient training programs

Managing efficient training programs

Question:

When training new employees, how do you manage the time used by the trainer while they are training? What happens if the trainer keeps getting pulled away from training? Is it worth it if that means training will take even longer?

– Jen Babaz, Hospitality Graduate Student

Answer:

Training is expensive; that’s why so many operations are focused on lowering employee turnover. For operations that don’t have a dedicated trainer or training team—and even many that do—training requires both maintaining operations and paying a trainee to learn. (We have previously addressed the question of how trainees need to be paid).

One common challenge is that by expecting a manager or key team-member to both do her job and train the new person, everyone is done a disservice: guests have a distracted person, the trainee has idle paid downtime, and the trainer can be frustrated trying to balance. Wherever possible, it’s ideal if the trainer can focus on training and the trainee can focus on learning without the added pressures of trying to maintain business as usual.

Many restaurants use a full-day (or full multi-day) shadowing approach to training, where a trainee mimics a normal work day by following a star employee. While that approach has its place, I’ve been seeing some approaches that might provide that better balance you’re looking for:

  • Pre-shift. Before the full training shift, bring employees in for a more intensive session.
  • Role play. Rather than waiting for learning opportunities to occur, have the trainee play out typical scenarios such as special requests or challenging scenarios.
  • What's wrong with this picture? Have the trainee observe someone doing something deliberately wrong to spot and correct the error.
  • Study. Be sure to have worksheets, games, manuals and other printed matter to allow for self-study that will allow employees to get some foundational knowledge before using a trainer’s time.

While varied approaches can keep things interesting and help trainees retain new information, there is no real substitute for the time commitment needed to do it right.

More on employee training programs here.

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