The hospitality and restaurant industries can be high-stress jobs. Employees must be able to multi-task and adapt to any situation quickly, all while on the move constantly; sometimes for up to ten hours per shift. They’ll have to do all of that while handling needy or irate customers who don’t understand the effort that it takes to create a phenomenal experience. Luckily, there are tried and true ways of training your employees to handle anything that’s thrown at them. And not to be cliche, but practice does make perfect.

As we mentioned in the previous Training Hacks, the intensity and duration of training will depend on your type of business and it’s size. Don’t forget, the best training programs provide the best results.

“You don’t BUILD a business. You build PEOPLE – and then people build the business.” -Zig Ziglar

The Method

At its core, training consists of four very basic principles.

  • You’ll need to explain the task and process.
  • Then, it’s best to demonstrate what you’ve just explained.
  • Next, have the trainee try doing what you’ve just shown them.
  • Last, review the topic and cover any important last notes.

You may not have ever realized it, but this method is used everywhere, from teaching small children to university classes (it works at home, too).

The method can be summed up in this handy saying: Tell/Show/Do/Review. Yes, we’re aware of how childish and simple it sounds, but the results are hard to argue against. Let’s elaborate on the four principles a bit more.

Step 1: Tell

When you’re dealing with a new employee (especially one who’s new to the industry), it’s best to ease them into the lesson by taking a few minutes to explain the task they’ll be learning.

You’ll want to have available any and all tools or materials they’ll need to execute the specific task. At this time, tell them the names and uses of said materials. After that, go into detail on the exact steps to take when performing the task.

For example, if you’re training a new assistant server in bussing and setting tables, you’ll want to have everything they’ll be using ready to go, or at least know where materials are kept in order to instruct the newbie. Then, break the process down into steps. This is especially helpful if the trainee is writing notes; they’ll be able to easily and effectively keep track of what you’re saying.

Step 2: Show

Now that the trainee has a general idea of what to expect, it’s time to show them how to perform the tasks. Yup, that means it’s your turn to show off your know-how. To this end, it could be a good idea to practice what you’re teaching beforehand, especially if it’s been awhile since the last time you did so.

Make sure you complete the task to its entirety using the steps you’ve explained. Any variations in the steps or final results will only cause confusion.

Step 3: Do

Now, it’s time for the trainee to perform the task for themselves. Within this step, there are many methods you can use to ensure the employee has understood and grasped the training.

  • Now is a good time to answer any questions they have and to ask questions to test them.
  • Depending on the task you’re training them on, you can have the employee shadow you throughout the restaurant while you show them how the task fits into the flow of service.
  • You can role play with them. You’ll act as a patron and have them complete the task in a “mock” real life situation.
  • Last, YOU can shadow them as they perform the task.

Remember, if the new employee makes any mistakes while performing the task, be sure to correct them as soon as is appropriate. If you have to, explain the steps again or show the steps again. Do not progress to the last part of this training method until the employee can perform exactly the way you’ve explained or demonstrated.

Step 4: Review

Start this step by having the employee explain the task back to you. A popular method is to actually let the employee teach the task back to you using the four training stepsThen, when it’s your turn to do the task, make some mistakes to test the trainee. This will keep them engaged in training and on their toes.

Of course, exactly what the new hire is being trained on will vary by position. However, there are a few training items that are required by all positions in the restaurant. Here are a few:

  • Clocking in/out
  • Safety procedures
  • Opening/Closing duties
  • Cleaning duties
  • Checking out at the end of the shift

Before letting the trainee go, be sure to answer any questions they may have. This means asking if they do in fact have any questions because they may not be inclined to bring them up themselves.

“Hire character. Train skill.” -Peter Schutz

Properly training an employee can (and should) be a time-consuming effort. But if you hire the right people for the right positions, you’ll form a culture in your establishment that makes training fun and easy, all while producing the best talent.

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