For anyone working in the service industry, the key to running a successful business is right there in the name: service. But training staff to provide the best service possible, especially if you’re dealing with a high turnover, isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers and hoping for the best.
It doesn’t matter how great your food is, your staff will make or break your business. That’s why training is one of your greatest investments. It’s not easy to find the time or organise schedules or set aside the budget. But, when everyone’s trained up and rearing to go, customer joy and satisfaction will far outweigh the hassle it might have taken to train your staff in the first place.
Need inspiration for training staff, old or new? Here are 10 ways to train your staff better (and make sure everyone has a bit of fun in the process).
1. Hire the Right People in the First Place
It’s a bit of a no-brainer but if you hire people with experience in your industry, you won’t have to train them as much or as hard. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t hire newbies, but think carefully about your recruitment processes before hiring, so you have people on the ground that can serve as role models for the team.
2. Provide an Opportunity for Direct Employee Training
Don’t expect your staff to manage their own training; if you want them to do it, you’re going to have to give it to them.
Create opportunities for staff to improve their knowledge in the food industry by setting up dedicated training sessions with obvious purposes. They don’t have to be long, but they do have to be useful. Add credibility to the experience by asking someone with a certain level of authority to lead it, like a manager or senior staff member.
3. Make Training Engaging & Fun
No one likes boring training sessions, especially when they’ve had to stick around after their shift or come in on their RDO. Make each training session fun and engaging. For example, if it has something to do with a new menu or wine selection, give your staff the opportunity to taste-test it.
4. Optimise Your Employees’ Strengths
Start off by training everyone the same way and with the same content, but keep your eyes peeled for individuals who excel in certain areas of your training programme. Staff members will feel valued if you notice what they’re naturally great at or genuinely interested in, then give them the opportunity to focus in on those strengths.
5. Go Digital, Not Old-School
With the rise of social media and smartphone usage, most people who work in and around hospitality these days are digital natives. Going ‘old-school’ and requiring staff to manually fill in questionnaires or sit upright and listen to someone drone on about the latest health and safety legislation just isn’t going to get the same traction as a digital option. Present videos and encourage staff to complete training via tablet instead.
6. Focus Training on Tasks
Instead of sitting staff down in a small room and presenting something to them, show them how it relates to their everyday tasks by incorporating it into their daily work schedule.
Not only will this help them see how it relates to real life, not just theory, you also won’t have to take as much time out of a regular workday. Do it during a quiet time of the day though.
7. Share the Training Load Around
Just because you’re the boss, doesn’t mean you have to shoulder the majority of the training yourself. Equip your team to share their experience with newbies, and empower up-and-comers who have a lot of potential to do the same.
8. Communicate Regularly
Training doesn’t have to revolve around dedicated sessions; more regular training notes and updates - perhaps every day - will help staff remember important things for longer. Send regular emails, post memos on a noticeboard or give senior members of your team notes that they need to pass onto everyone else.
9. Make Onboarding Easy for New Staff
Before new staff join your company, make sure you’ve got a full training pack to present them with. Not only will this help make sure everyone’s on the same page, even if they haven’t been around for long, it’ll also help newbies feel like they belong to the team and won’t be left floundering by themselves.
10. Make Sure Everyone Understands What They’ve Just Learned
Organising training is all well and good, but if your staff is still none the wiser or if they didn’t enjoy it, it might have been a total waste of time. End every session with an invitation for staff members to ask more questions (privately if they’d like), and encourage them to provide feedback for every training session (anonymously if they’d like).
Unfortunately, we're not all blessed with engaged and high-performing employees. Wondering how to train the untrainable employee? Start off by pinpointing their challenges, then customise their training schedule from there.
Be motivating, encouraging and flexible; teach them in the way that's most effective for them to learn. Ultimately, do all you can to make training fun and focus it on the people you're training. If you can prove to them that it's worth it, you'll get much better results.
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