This, the third in my series looking at common problems even good businesses have focuses on staff training.
A Teacher… who me!!
I have always maintained that I would make the worst teacher in the world, not that I don’t like explaining what I know to others, I do but I always assume that everybody must know what I know. When you know something it becomes simple so it is difficult to comprehend why others find it so hard.
My story continues…
Anyway, back to my story of a long weekend away in Falmouth. Sunday morning, half way through our breakfast I noticed a young waitress, impeccably dressed in an obviously new uniform approach a recently vacated table carrying a tray loaded with all the items needed for re-laying a four cover table. She was clearly new, inexperienced and it became immediately obvious, untrained in the task she had been sent to perform.
As she reached the table uncertainty flashed across her face, there was no room on the table to set down the tray. Not to be defeated she pulled out a chair and put the tray down on the seat. Problem sorted, but immediately the small triumph turned back to confusion as she realised that she needed to clear the table so she could replace the tablecloth. But what could she do with all the used place settings?
The tray, already loaded with clean cups, plates, silverware and linens could not also carry all the used items on the table. This girl was not going to be beaten by such a trivial problem. After a moment’s hesitation she gathered together all the items and started balancing them carefully on a nearby radiator. This cunning plan was working well until she got to the cutlery. With piles of plates, saucers and cups occupying the majority of the upper surface of the radiator there was little room left for the cutlery. With infinite care and total concentration she started balancing knives, forks and spoons on their precarious perch. She nearly made it. I was silently routing for her, I really was but inevitability the cutlery suddenly tumbled to the carpeted floor. The noise was not too dramatic; enough to still the murmur of conversation and have guests look up from their breakfasts.
Leaving the cutlery on the floor the girl gathered up the tablecloth and placed it on another chair then, with increasing confidence started to re-lay the table. Finally, with an empty tray she removed the items from the radiator and picked up the cutlery.
With a final check of the table and a satisfied nod, she picked up the tray and headed back to the kitchen.
For ingenuity and single-minded determination to complete her task I would employ this person any day.
Would training help?
Would a five minute demonstration (training) prior to service on how to lay a table been useful? Of course it would but is it important?
Importance doesn’t need to be life threatening. Is it important for an up market hotel to convey superior service and calm efficiency? Err… probably. So why send out a young girl to undertake a task in front of guests with absolutely no training?
Vary your training method
The task, the individual and circumstance are the three things that should shape your staff training requirements but there is one more.
Never forget (and it is very easy to) that your learning style could be completely different from the person you need to train. Force, even inadvertently, your style on them and at best the training will be ineffective, at worst it could result in someone feeling unsure what you want them to do, unhappy and insecure in their employment.
That just about concludes my thoughts on training but as usually it would be good to get your views so;
What benefits and problems have you experienced when training staff?