Improve performance with results focused training

Improve performance with results focused training

By Rick Braa, CHAE      

QUESTION: As we begin hiring for our busier season, we are re-examining our training practices. In the past, it seems like we were constantly chasing our tails as business rapidly improves. I’d like this year to be better than years past. What needs to change to improve performance?

ANSWER: Training is the number one opportunity for improving performance in any business. It’s also the one discipline treated as disposable. When times are busy the excuse is there is no time to train. When times are slow the excuse is there is no money to train. Training is an investment just like a new piece of equipment. It’s not something to be shelved in good or bad times; it’s something to constantly be sharpening. Reading through training material from organizations provides a sense of what that organization is all about. Some material is technical and detailed, other material is philosophical and brand-based. Great training, written or not, inspires results and delivers the brand promise to the employee resulting in technical excellence and an enhanced guest and employee experience.

The following should expected of every training system:

Employees take ownership of results. In John Rossman’s The Amazon Way: 14 Principles Behind the World’s Most Disruptive Company, the author points to a story in the early days of Amazon that has become a symbolic gesture used by Jeff Bezos to illustrate the difference between an owner and a renter. During one of Amazon’s first holiday parties, the committee in charge of setting up the party realized it didn’t bring a stand for the Christmas tree. In a pinch, one of the people in attendance decided to nail the tree to the floor rather than making a trip to get a stand. The reasoning was that the location was a rental. An owner would never nail a Christmas tree to the floor of a facility he or she owns, but a renter would. In the restaurant business, if someone is renting rather owning, there are many things that are nailed to the floor at the expense of the guest, the restaurant and the crew. Training open communication and commitment to ownership of results keeps the nails out of the floor.

Employees understand the context or the “why” of what they do. Context provides insight and understanding for decision making. Checklists are put into place to limit incompetence and ensure that everything is complete. There is nothing wrong with checklists; those with proper context don’t need them. They understand what is needed to function properly and why something is done. Part of contextual training is cultural as well. Make sure you have a clearly defined purpose, behavioral values, teamwork norms and high execution expectations. Put as much training time into the cultural part of the job as the technical side of it. A training system based on context leads to understanding. What you understand you never forget. What you know may be forgotten.

Employees experience continual training. When hiring people, the No. 1 answer to the question, “Why do you want to work here?” is professional growth. The best companies possess the best people because people want to grow through experience. While hiring outside talent into an organization is always an option, most successful companies develop talent from within the organization. It’s difficult to hire and develop from outside especially if the pace is swift. Employees generally evolve with a company; make sure training supports their evolution. Managers should receive the largest amount of training. When managers are trained in both coaching skills and technical skills, their employees are learning; employees’ performance improves by 42 percent, according to Wilson Learning. Teaching and training every day and constantly upgrading knowledge in the workforce is an equal opportunity for all companies. The expectation is continual improvement, knowing there is no limit to excellent performance.

Well trained, engaged employees produce three times the amount of work of those that are non-engaged. The result is a thrilling workplace producing quicker table turns, increased check average, higher guest engagement and frequency all contributing to higher sales and a sustainable model.

For more information on improving profitability and driving performance, contact AMP Services at Rick Braa is the co-founder of AMP Services, an accounting and consulting firm specializing in helping companies grow profitability.

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