Yes, You Can Train Your Team.
I was speaking to a restaurant manager recently. She was lamenting that it was really no fun engaging with the staff at her restaurant. When I asked what made it so unenjoyable she said, “it’s hard training people who really have no interest in what you’re saying.” I have heard this phrase countless times from managers who feel ineffective and unmotivated to train the servers, runners and cooks at their restaurant. And it is completely understandable.
An early lesson in teacher certification classes is that if your students aren’t getting it, it’s not them: it’s you. This means that if you are teaching a topic in a way that no one is mastering or demonstrating interest in, then you must try another approach. This is also true of training your team: if they’re not engaged, you must change your delivery.
Here are 3 concepts to keep in mind so you can approach training your team more effectively:
You’re teaching adults.
Adults learn in different ways than children and, as such, you must engage them in a more mature way. Adults learn by participating, by voicing opinions and by working in groups. Lectures should be kept brief. Engage your staff by asking them questions in order to stimulate interaction and participation, and have them do role-play or solve various real life situations in small groups. When adult learners are participating, they are more likely to adopt a new method or practice. In short: when adults have the chance to practice a skill in training, they are more likely to implement the skill on the job.
Train the Standard.
With varied work experience, adults bring learned habits and methods to their subsequent positions. Sometimes these habits have no place in your operation. Simply pointing out the habit and asking for a change may not be compelling enough for the employee to follow your direction. Instead, be clear about the standard of your business and be clear about how that standard must be reached. As an example, if you want your waiters to pour wine holding a napkin in their hand rather than serving wine with the napkin draped over their arm refer to the standard of your restaurant:
- “Here at (restaurant name) it’s important that we all serve wine in the same way. Our wine director prefers that we hold the napkin in our hand, and not draping it over the arm. This way you can easily catch any drips that may fall from the bottle and makes our wine service unified and elegant.”
If the employee tells you they prefer the old method or that they think it’s better their way, don’t argue the point. Merely state that the standard of the restaurant is the new way and you’d like him or her to embrace this standard of wine service.
Change Your Approach.
Every manager I have worked with has expressed that they resent having to repeat themselves. Unfortunately, your job is to repeat the standard with your team in order to ensure understanding and compliance. But here’s the thing: if you find yourself having to repeat instructions regularly, then you must adjust your delivery. Chances are, if you’re bored with the message the message will sound boring. So try different approaches:
- Experiment with the tone of what you’re saying (try being more direct/serious or humorous/lighthearted)
- Adjust the time of day you are doing your training (maybe before service is too stressful and training can happen after lunch service instead)
- Ask more questions (by asking questions you will be engaging people directly). Avoid “who knows xyz?”, which can pit one person against another. Instead ask for specific examples. “Has anyone had an experience where you’ve spilled something on a guest?” Then ask individuals to share their experiences. Always acknowledge the options offered, and then state the standard of your business. “That’s great you offered $20 to cover their dry cleaning. What we want to ensure is that our process is to apologize profusely, offer dry napkins and then let them know a manager will come talk to them immediately about covering their dry cleaning costs.”
Training is an ongoing process in any business and it rests on the managers to conduct training regularly. A respect for adult learning, clearly communicated standards and a proactive approach will make the job more enjoyable and effective. I guarantee you will also see better results from your team members, which is good for everyone.