Common Training Mistakes
Unfortunately, training in this business is too often like two outfielders running for a flyball. Each of them says “I got it, wait, no, you got it!”, and the ball lands innocently between them. Two managers watching a task fall between them happens all the time in this business. We get distracted or busy. There are too many fires to put out at once, and suddenly an important duty falls through the cracks.
In most restaurants, we need new hires on a regular basis. Training procedures have to be put in place and responsibilities have to be delegated. Standards such as training materials, tests and one-on-ones with management are set forth to ensure that training goes smoothly and the trainee is ready to contribute within a fixed period of time. Why, then, do so many trainees fall through the cracks?
It’s important to resolve yourself to the idea that the trainee, not you, should be the reason that he or she fails. That means giving your trainees the foundation and skills to succeed. This is much easier said than done, but it has to be a management commitment or it won’t happen.
Imagine this Scenario
A trainee enters your restaurant for his first day of work and is set up with a training schedule and an employee handbook. The trainee follows a different employee each week and sees every facet of your operation. In no time, the end of the week arrives and you realize your trainee has floated around all week without direction or interaction with management. Now his name is on the schedule and you need him to get through a busy weekend. But you have no idea if he’s ready.
This happens too often in too many restaurants. Someone has to advocate the best interests of the trainee. This can be the hiring manager, a delegated trainer, or the General Manager. However it happens, the trainee has to be embraced by the material and people of the organization who hired him. In environments with high turnover, this requires a structured, rigorous training program that is hard to deviate from. It also means that a manager sets aside time during the busy week for one-on-one interaction.
Training Mistakes Can Happen Anywhere
So, you have an established training program and the right people in place to execute it. There are still many pitfalls along the way. Here are a few:
- Training is too short
- You fail to properly test the trainee
- The trainee gets thrown to the wolves (perhaps on a busy weekend or holiday)
- The employee handbook is not given out or materials are overlooked
- Tax paperwork isn’t filled out or gets lost
- A flood of employees during seasonal hiring changes the culture of the restaurant
- Your training ideas peter out because you fail to train your trainers
Even the best management teams are capable of these mistakes. The bottom line always takes priority, and a trainee bears little impact there during his first week. Therefore, it’s important to have multiple people taking charge of training, and a small paper trail in the manager’s office so that everyone can be aware of the trainee’s progress.
The Right People
Of course, the training also requires the right people to execute it. Trainees have to be motivated. They can be motivated by money, a promotion, or their personal investment in the company. They also have to be good communicators and capable of articulating your vision for the company. These people are hard to find and can be hard to hold onto. They’re valuable commodities and they represent the building blocks upon which a successful restaurant is built.
My suggestion has always been to be willing to pay for people who can articulate and perform the purpose of the restaurant on a daily basis. This, too, is easier said than done. However, failure to pay for the right trainers tends to equate to the added expense of over-paying to repeatedly hire and train new employees.