Sunday, January 27, 2013


We have discussed the training process at length. There is still more to come on that topic -but I want to spend some time talking about setting expectations.

I use the acronym TEAM to spell out my plan for training and keeping the trainee on track long after the training is over.  You know my is at the bottom of every post Training is not a one time event - it is an ongoing journey!!  Training keeps on going - but it changes as an employee goes through their career with your company.  In the beginning they are learning everything knew - and how to do each task that is required of them.  As time goes on they are being tested and evaluated to make sure that they are continuing to do things properly and to the standards that you have set.  Let's take a look at TEAM:

Training - we have covered the basics here and will discuss it more later
Expectations - We discussed this briefly when we talked about orientations - but I want to go into more detail here
Accountability - I did a post on this earlier - Accountability-silence-gives-consent in case you want to review
Maintenance - Keep it going - continually observe and evaluate the employee - make sure they are doing the right thing all of the time.

As you can see by the title of this post - it is time to talk more about setting expectations.

What are your expectations?  Some simple, basic expectations that every employer should have- no matter what the industry or organizations are as follows:

  1. Coming to work on time
  2. Dressing in the proper uniform or to the proper dress code
  3. Not coming to work under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
  4. Not harassing or discriminating against other employees
  5. Conducting oneself in an appropriate and professional manner at all times
  6. Following directions that are given by their supervisor
We could add more things to this list, but this is a good start.

Of course - employees have reasonable expectations of their employers. If you are the employer - you must:

  1. Treat all employees fairly and ethically (this is the law - not just a good idea - if you aren't aware of the Civil Rights act of 1964 - check it out.)
  2. Pay employees for what they work - on a reasonable schedule - whether it be every week or every two weeks - employees expect and deserve to be paid on time
  3. Provide adequate breaks
  4. Provide adequate TRAINING!! - this is the root of what I want to teach you on this blog - you can't expect people to do the job the right way if you don't teach them the right way!!
This list should be much more extensive - but it will do for the discussion at this time.

As I said in the orientation post - from day one - tell them what you expect of them.  Have them sign paperwork stating that they are going to be held accountable to follow your company policies and expectations.  

When you do your part - teach them what they need to know - and how they are expected to behave - and you behave in the same ethical and reasonable manner - you will have begun to build a great culture in your business.

Training is not a one - time event - it is an ongoing journey...Learn it...Live it...Pass it on!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Long Week

For some reason this week seems like it doesn't want to end. I shouldn't complain since so many weeks buzz by so quickly that I can't even remember what I did all week. I had a very early morning on Tuesday - had to get up at 5:30 am to get to work on time.  Now it is Thursday and it feels like it should be Friday or Saturday.  I guess the cold froze my creative brain and I simply didn't have much to say that last two days.  Here in the East it has been very cold. To people in Minnesota I am sure that 9 degrees isn't cold - but to us it is! I can't stand to be outside for more that a couple of minutes at a time.

At any rate - I will talk a little bit about some training experiences I have had this week before getting back into some planning and organization tips in my next post. The longer I stay here and type - the longer it is before I have to go out into the cold and snow!

Seeing Progress
Two restaurants that I visited this week gave me a great deal of hope- and made me feel good about the job that I do. These stores are proof that if you train people - and coach them to do the job right - along with giving them the right tools and environment in which to work - they will improve.  While there are some people who just want to do their own thing and will not follow your direction no matter what - I believe that most people want to do what is right and will do it if you should them how.

Store 1 just lost their store manager. He was on a vacation and when he came back he worked a couple of hours - said he didn't feel well and left - then he called his district manager and said that he was quitting.  Just like that - a store that was already struggling with procedures was left without a leader. The other managers who work there (well two of them, anyway) are stepping up and taking charge- the other two are questionable. The thing I have seen is that the coaching and direction that I have given to the team has, for the most part, taken hold. They are not perfect - but they want to do well.  When I correct them they don't push back - they ask for more information.  There is one person to whom I have given the same direction a couple of times and he still does a couple things his way - I hope to see that final piece fall into place on my next visit.

Store 2 has gone through a remarkable change!  Just getting rid of a bad leader took them up a step - putting in a decent leader raised them a little higher - but he decided after only two weeks that he would rather work somewhere else a person who was already working there - who has experience as a store manager has been promoted and the change is WOW!  The mood and atmosphere of the whole restaurant is so much better.  They aren't perfect - but this is a store that has really had it ups and (mostly) downs - even with some "leaders" (I use the term loosely)  who had a ton of experience and should have been able to make a difference.

The lesson for today is - don't quit - don't give up! Keep pushing and training and looking for that right leader who will make a difference.  Eventually it will stick and you will see improvement. Training is always worth the time and energy that it takes!  Sometimes when things seem bad - take a look back at where you came from to help you to recognize how far you have come!

Training is not a one - time event - it is an ongoing journey...Learn it...Live it...Pass it on!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Getting a team on the right track

I had the opportunity to help out one of my fellow above restaurant leaders today.  He is having to work as a manager in a store that is without a general manager.  I was working in the store with him and he asked me to work with a team member who has been there for a couple years. He was having her do a task and he knew that she wasn't doing them correctly so he wanted me to work with her on doing them to standard. I work for a company that is a franchisee for a fast food chain. As I have said before - I will not discuss that brand - and will not promote it or criticize it here.  I like my job very much and if anyone whom I work with reads this blog - they will know who I am - but I am not here to talk about any one specific chain or brand.

What I did can and should be applied to any situation that is similar to the one I was in today. This person has worked in the restaurant long enough  to know how to do things right - or at least to know where to go find the information that tells you how to do it correctly - but she doesn't.  She is very negative about the job - doesn't like it when she has to be in the back making food instead of waiting on guests. She seems to really pride herself on her interaction with regular guests - the problem is that the regular guests are the only ones she is overly friendly with!  She over portioned one item that she made for them and I called her on it. I said that I understand they are regulars - but it isn't up to us to give them something they didn't pay for just because of that.

So we are in the back getting ready to do this food prep task and I explain to her what my approach is. Now I know that she has an excuse or a person to blame for anything that I tell her she is doing wrong so I have to get her to buy in to what I am going to teach her. I encourage you to put this type of statement into your own words and use it when you are in a situation like this.  I call this my Clean Slate approach:

"I know that there have been many things that you either weren't taught or that you were not taught the proper way to do them.  We are here to make sure that it stops today. I am not concerned about what happened yesterday and before. I am concerned about making sure that it doesn't happen anymore. It is a clean slate.  We don't own this brand so it isn't up to us to decide if something should or shouldn't be done a certain way. We have this book that has a standard procedure for all of these tasks. All we have to do is read the book -and do the task that way!  If you are doing it to the ___________ standard - no one can tell you that you are wrong. You will be doing it right."

She still argued a bit - saying that they don't do it that way but I kept on telling her - this is the right way - now you know you are doing it correctly.  She has a long way to go, but at least I have put her on notice that I expect her to do things the right way.  I also made it clear to her that I don't blame her or any other team member there for not knowing the right way - there used to be a manager there who wasn't training people and wasn't holding them accountable to the company standards and expectations.

If you take this kind of approach - you will find success with the good people who want to do the right thing. The people you don't have success with should go work somewhere else.  Clean Slate - you might not have done it right before,  but now you have been taught to do it right - so that is the expectation.

Try it - I have done it many times and it works!

Training is not a one - time event - it is an ongoing journey...Learn it...Live it...Pass it on!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A bit off topic

I want to go slightly off topic with something today.  A couple of days ago - a co-worker of mine and I met with a person who works in the same field as we do - training, hiring, and development for a restaurant owner.  She works for the same brand that we do.  She had some really great ideas and even a fantastic spreadsheet that she created to help us with some issues we have been having.  My co-worker...let's just call us the M&M's - and I were very excited about the information that she gave us.  We have a 'what we have been doing isn't working very well, let's try something new' attitude. We were all pumped up - right after the meeting we sat down and worked on compiling notes on the meeting to present to our bosses. We did this with the idea that we would love to be given the nod to go forward with it and were ready to do some preliminary work on the project.

These are some important things to remember when you are proposing a new and kind of radical idea - do your homework.

Think about the people from whom you need to get approval.  What will they say when you present the new way of doing things to them?  Will they agree that a change is needed?  Will they say that it won't work?

I know that I have to expect to get some push-back on this new approach - I just didn't expect it so soon!  The very next day - the other M got an email from one of the people who we shared our notes with saying that it couldn't be done at this time.  It is so hard sometimes to get people to break out of their old way of doing things and see the benefit of a new way.  The point here is to be prepared. I guess I didn't present the notes the way I intended.  I meant the email to be a re-cap of the information that was shared with us - and the person who replied took it as if we - M&M were saying this was a done deal.

Depending on where you work - moving forward with a new training plan - no matter how much it is needed - may be an up-hill battle.  You may face people who are against any change - people who don't see things your way.  They are not wrong for having different views than you do - but if you believe...really BELIEVE in what you are doing - it is your responsibility to convince them to give it a try.  Get all your ducks in a row - collect information about the successes or lack there of that you have seen with your current system.  Put together a solid presentation - introducing all the key players to the new way.  When you have find tuned and polished your presentation - ask for a meeting.  Bring the people together who will approve or deny your plan.  Present the data to them and just ask them for a chance to try it.  I intend to work with the other M to gather information and build the case for our plan.  When we present it - my intention is to ask for a time frame - let's say 6 months.  Give us 6 months to do this and see what happens. If it doesn't work - at least we will know we tried something different. If we see improvement - give us another 6 months. If after a year we are seeing a change - great - we all win! If we are still in the same place we were today - we end it and move on to something else.

Be proactive! Put together a plan for change before your boss asks for it.

I am reinvigorated!  Yesterday afternoon the M&M were feeling pretty let down. It was like someone came along and popped the balloon of good feelings we had from the day before. Today - that balloon is filling back up again!  I believe that we can make a change that will have positive impact on our company.  I can't wait to get started!!

Training is not a one - time event - it is an ongoing journey...Learn it...Live it...Pass it on!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Outline of a training plan

Let's take a look at an outline of a good training program.  I will use an example of training someone to work as a food prep person.

After you have gone through the initial orientation process - including teaching them about your plans and policies around safety and security in your restaurant - you will start doing the actual position training.  Don't skip over the important basic learning.  Every person who works in your organization will need to know things like:

  • Safety and security
  • Fire prevention
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Dress code and appearance standards
  • Anti-harassment guidelines 

You should go over these things before starting to train them on their position.  If you don't teach a new employee that they shouldn't lift anything over 30 pounds on their own - you could end up with an injured employee and a lawsuit before they even start making food.  Protect yourself and your employees!

When you are ready to start training them about preparing food - start with Food Safety. I have mentioned this before - but you cannot overdo it when it comes to serving safe food.  Hand washing must be your number one point of training for a food handler.

Plan: Make sure your hand washing sink is stocked with soap and paper towels; Gather any job aids that you have such as a list of questions that you will ask during the hands-on training or a poster that outlines the steps of proper hand washing.
Teach: Take the employee to the sink area.  Explain to them that they must use hot water and soap to wash their hands and that they must scrub their hands and wrists for at least 10-15 seconds- making sure that they wash between their fingers and under their nails; when they are done washing - they must rinse with hot water - then use a paper towel or warm air dryer to dry their hands.  ServSafe® recommends that you a paper towel to turn off the water - otherwise your hands will be re-contaminated from the dirty handle. Ask them if they have any questions - if there was anything they didn't understand. Tell them about different diseases that are spread by dirty hands. Tell them when they must wash their hands.
Observe/Evaluate:  Now it is their turn!  Have them wash their hands and role-play that they are teaching you!  Observe what they do and see if they followed all the steps that you taught them.  Ask them questions about illnesses and times that they must wash their hands. If they miss any steps - tell them what they missed. Even if they do everything perfectly - that doesn't mean that you should certify them in hand washing. You will have to observe them over a couple of shifts to see if they are consistently following the standard.

This is one of the most basic, not to mention critical aspects of working with and around food - and yet everyone doesn't understand how important it is.  Your food handlers must understand that they could not only make customers sick - but they could potentially cause your establishment to be closed - or even run out of business just because they didn't wash their hands properly.

I use this example because it demonstrates a simple task that we take for granted - and shows the detailed steps that have to be followed to ensure proper training and execution.

If you apply this same detailed focus to all of the tasks you teach your people - you will be successful!

Training is not a one - time event - it is an ongoing journey...Learn it...Live it...Pass it on!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Took a short break...I'm back

Sorry...had to be away a night for work and I just didn't get to posting anything.  I had some good training experiences that last couple days that I want to share. There are so many times that we see negative or bad situations - I like to focus on the good things when they gives me hope that things can change.  Yesterday I went to work in a restaurant that has a great team. They aren't perfect, but they are so nice to work with. They are very receptive to any coaching and training that I offer them.  The one guy even told me I was a great trainer!  That really made my day!!  I showed him a better way to do a task he was working on and he came up to me later and said...'that really did work better..thanks for teaching me that'.  That is what I love the most about training!  When the light bulb goes off..when the trainee gets it and sees the benefit of the training.  I also had a good visit with a new manager who is just finishing training and is being certified.  It was a good day. On my way home I received a phone call from a co-worker asking me to take on project of helping with training in a troubled store. They lost their General manager a couple weeks ago and the district manager is having to run shifts to cover for the lack of management. I was happy to see that the store isn't in as much trouble as they could be. The DM has hired a bunch of people and since he can only be in the store a couple days a week- I told him I would come in on some of the days that he can't be there and help with training the new people.  I love taking on these special projects.  It is a great way to help the company, build good working relationships with team members and managers and practice my training skills.  It is a great way to stay sharp on what is going on in the restaurants on a day to day basis.

We have so much more to talk about - setting up training systems and learning how to execute them bur for now I just want to bask in the warm glow of the Ravens win over Denver while drinking a cup of tea and relaxing.

Your mission - should you choose to accept it - think about some great training experiences you have had - either being trained or doing the training.  Write them down and take some notes that can help you in the future...ask yourself these questions:

  1. Why was it a great training experience?
  2. What did you or the trainer do differently that helped you to learn or teach?
  3. How did it make you feel?
  4. What can you do to capture that feeling again when you are doing the training?
  5. Will your favorite football team be going to the Super Bowl this year....LOL...sorry...I have just grown into such a Ravens fan I couldn't resist - on the next round!
The weekend is a great time to relax and renew!

Training is not a one - time event - it is an ongoing journey...Learn it...Live it...Pass it on!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

who should do your training?

Now that we have an idea of what we need to teach - let's talk a little more about who is going to do the teaching.  As I said before - just because someone is good at a job doesn't mean they will be good at teaching others to do that job.  Training requires not only knowledge but patience and a desire and ability to adapt to your students/trainees.

I used to have a manager working for me who was thought of as one of the best trainers in our company. She was a trainer for the company before I started working there.  She was a good trainer. The problem was that she was what I will call an Alpha Female. If you aren't sure what I mean by that - or would just like to read the Urban Dictionary meaning - click here.  Due to this behavior - she had a very hard time working with other women. If you had another Alpha Female manager as a trainee - she wouldn't make it training with this RGM.  She also got to the point that she wouldn't adapt to different personalities in her trainees.  A good trainer has to be able to take a step back and talk to the trainee when they just aren't getting it.  Anyone here been watching The Biggest Loser this year?  I watched it years ago and since you already know that I don't like reality TV - you probably will be surprised to find out that I decided to watch it this year.  I guess it was for the same reason many people are watching it...we are fat and need to lose weight and what better time to make a commitment to a healthier lifestyle than in January?  Anyway...the reason I mention this is that the one trainer - Jillian Michaels  is very tough on her people. She is mean to them and yells and makes them feel bad about their performance - or lack thereof.  The thing is - when she realized that her hard as nails - no-holds-barred way of talking to her team was not inspiring was making them want to quit. All people don't respond to that kind of instruction. She didn't give up on them, she sat down and talked to them and asked them what they needed from her. Of course - even after she agreed to adjust her methods - she asked for full commitment from them.  The reason I am sharing this with you is because the same thing goes when you are training a person to do a job. If you use one method and they don't get it - change your perspective and method. If they don't get it after you have come at it every way you can think of - they just might not be cut out for the job - but at least you have given them every opportunity to succeed.  The manager I was discussing above got to the point that she couldn't do that. She felt her way was right and if the trainee didn't understand or pick up on the way to do the task she would just tell me "They aren't 'sharp'"  She always used that term - sharp...I knew what she meant by it, but it wasn't that they weren't smart - it was that they weren't learning up to her standards.  Since they weren't living up to her expectations and she believed that she was always right and perfect - she refused to change her way of training.  She even said that to me once right before she left the company. "It isn't my job to change to meet their needs."  I was shocked - so shocked that I can't even remember if I told her that she was wrong. I knew she was on her way out the door so it just wasn't worth it at that point.

Okay - so how do you choose a trainer?  Find someone who is a natural at it.  Someone who does everything to the right standard using any tools that you have available. Someone who is patient and who works well with others. Someone is is well liked by the rest of the team.  A natural leader. Someone who might even be a manager for you someday - after they get a bit more experience.  Then - and this is important - ask them if they would like to be a trainer. If they don't want to do it - they probably won't be good at it.  If talking them into it is like pulling teeth - they probably won't be good at it.

Pick your trainer or trainers - and if you don't have someone who fits the bill - start looking for that person when you interview employees.

Training is not a one - time event - it is an ongoing journey...Learn it...Live it...Pass it on!

Sunday, January 6, 2013


In my work career I have been...

  • Housekeeper
  • Secretary (yes it was in the 80's when they still called them that)
  • Cashier in retail
  • Waitress
  • Factory worker - not for me- I couldn't talk to anyone!
  • Cashier in service station
  • Restaurant hostess
  • Fast food manager
  • Fast food training manager
As you can see, most of my experience is in the food service industry as I have stated earlier.  The example outline I am going to post is for a team member being trained to work in a restaurant - however - as I have also stated previously - you can adapt this to any organization that requires similar jobs.  I refer you to an earlier post Teach, let's get started which discusses training needs for different jobs.  

Our training plan has to be the same for all employees who are going to do a specific job.  The only thing we are going to assume is that the people we will be training don't know anything about how to do the job for which we will be hiring them. Start with you list of responsibilities for the job role. Build a job description and start there.

List the Cashier responsibilities and then break them down into what each of those tasks this:
  1. Taking guest's orders
    • smiling and being friendly with guests (behavior)
    • recording the order on the register (skill)
    • suggestive selling (skill/behavior)
    • repeating order to make sure it is correct (skill/behavior
    • Handling cash and credit card transactions (skill and behavior)
    • Handing out drink cups or beverages (skill)
    • Closing the transaction in a friendly manner (behavior)
  2. Cleaning dining room
    • Counter
    • Condiment area
    • Drink station
    • Floors
    • Doors/windows
    • Restrooms
    • Tables
    • Collecting trays
    • Talking to guests in dining room
  3. Washing dishes (I refer you once again to ServSafe® because they provide all of this - if you use their standards you won't go wrong)
    • How to set up sink
    • What is clean?
    • Proper steps to washing dishes
  4. Preparing drinks
  5. Stocking napkins, condiments, drink cup lids, plastic ware
    • When to do this
    • If a guest comes in - stop what you are doing and wait on the guest
You will notice that I have added the words 'skill' and 'behavior' after some of the tasks under Taking orders.  Why did I do that?  It might not be obvious to you. The things that are behaviors may be harder to teach to some people.  If you didn't look for a smiling, friendly, happy person during the interview process - you may have a difficult time getting them to smile and be friendly with the guests. This has to be a non-negotiable... meaning that if they don't do it - they won't have a job with you. When a person walks into your business - the person they see and interact with is the face of your business.  

Now you can create an outline similar to this based on the job tasks you have in your business.  We will break down this training further next time!
Go Ravens!!!

Training is not a one - time event - it is an ongoing journey...Learn it...Live it...Pass it on!

Friday, January 4, 2013

What do you need to teach your employees?

I have mentioned watching Restaurant Stakeout in  a previous post. One of the things that amazes me when I watch that show is the lack of training that some of the owners give to their employees.

I should back up a little and tell you that I don't like "reality" TV! I also don't like it when people use quotation marks in the wrong when they sign their name on a card...."Missy"...why would you do that?  It's my name...why should it have quotes around it?  ...but I digress... when it comes to reality TV it needs to have quotes around it cause it isn't really..well...REALITY!  Anyway...I don't believe that the people don't know what is going on...I mean...if you worked somewhere every day - don't you think you would notice...and mention it if one day you came to work and there were cameras around? I know they are supposed to be hidden, but sometimes it seems like they are not. have to get a release to put someones picture or face on TV - so for the people who are being shown as total losers and possibly even fired and their faces aren't blurred out..that means that they signed a release. Would you do that if you were just shown in that light on film? I wouldn't unless I was being paid...Ok...I digress even further - I just wanted to make sure that you all know that I don't believe that the show is totally real.

If you are going to open a restaurant - you need to have a business plan - I think you probably have to have a business plan just to get financing for your business so part of your plan should be that you are going to run the business successfully and make money at it. In order to do that - your employees have to be trained.

We have established why training is so important - let's start talking about how you will decide what you are going to teach to your team.

If your business is a restaurant or retail store - you will have to teach some of the following:

  • How to operate your register system
  • How to ring up merchandise - or take a guest's order
  • How to interact with the guest/consumers
  • What are their other responsibilities when there aren't customers to wait on?
For restaurants - all of the above plus...
  • Safe food handling
    • Hand washing
    • Cleanliness
    • Allergy information
    • Time-Temperature control
    • Avoiding cross-contamination
  • How to prepare ingredients
  • How to prepare menu items
  • How to up-sell or suggestive sell
  • What is on the menu - how is it prepared
This is a partial list - but it is like 1000 lawyers chained together at the bottom of the ocean...a good start!

If you are playing along at home - it is time to sit down and think about all the jobs for which you will have to hire people.  Register operators, a chef, hostess, janitor, servers, cooks, food prep people, managers, trainers....think about it...put that list together - then start building a list of what responsibilities each of those people will have. That will start you on your way to creating a good training system

See you soon!

Training is not a one - time event - it is an ongoing journey...Learn it...Live it...Pass it on!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How to train...

How will you train?  What will be your means to sharing the information with your trainees?  In today's high-tech workplace you have a couple of options. You can go old school and do only hands-on training.  On the Job Training is a necessary method to use at least as part of your system if you are training people on things such as using a POS (point of sale) system to ring up merchandise or orders or preparing menu items.  Videos can be a very effective way to present some of the training that is required for safety and security, fire prevention and anti-harassment.  If you don't have videos available to you - simply search "training videos for the workplace" and you will find companies that produce generic videos that can be used for any organization - you will just need to find the one that suits your needs.

As far as training that is specific to your business - unless you are associated with a major brand - your best bet is doing the hands on training yourself - or utilizing a certified trainer that we talked about in an earlier post.  Along with the on the job training- you should have training materials - such as books or paper-based tests.  I have created training resource books and/or binders to give to management trainees.  You can either print and copy the materials that you want to share with your trainees and organize them into a binder or go to any business that does custom printing to have your books printed.  Some of the things that should be included in a training binder are:

  1. Training plan/schedule - this will help the trainer and the trainee to stay on track
  2. Study materials (this can range from menus and instructions for preparing foods to examples of your register layout.  Basically anything that needs to be memorized by the trainee)
  3. Knowledge tests the trainee will be required to take throughout the training
  4. Copies of other job aids that the trainee needs to be familiar with
One very important thing to keep in mind when you are putting together your system is it's practicality.  Will it work? Is it going to easily be integrated into the work place?

Stay tuned...there is much more to come!

Training is not a one - time event - it is an ongoing journey...Learn it...Live it...Pass it on!