Hospitality Needs Trainers More Than Ever—And Trainers Need Their Fundamentals
Director of Innovation, Recruiting and Training for Ivar’s Restaurants
Past CHART President
Out with the old in the New Year? Not so fast! Visionary leaders in hospitality training can use the hindsight of training fundamentals for the foresight needed in 2021.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitality workplaces have been overwhelmed with new procedures and practices: proper mask wearing, measuring out social distancing markers and pathways, interacting with guests who won’t follow guidelines, increased hand washing and sanitation, setting up third-party delivery, closing down and re-opening dining rooms, and on and on and on. Additionally, it seems like we receive weekly updates from the CDC and local health departments with new coronavirus symptoms, protocols, and available testing resources. As a result, most of us have probably dealt with more changes in the past year than we have experienced in the past two decades.
“It’s hard enough to keep up on all the usual tasks… when you are also being asked to create a tsunami of new procedures.”
When it comes to communicating the standards related these changes, our companies often rely on us, the training departments, to get our teams up to speed. We are expected to take in (or seek out) all the new information, filter out what’s not relevant to our businesses, and spread the word to the teams at our different locations.
This challenge has been daunting for almost every trainer in our industry. It’s hard enough to keep up on all the usual tasks, especially if your department has been downsized recently, when you are also being asked to create a tsunami of new procedures such as handling contactless payments, figuring out what to do when the DoorDash driver fails to show up, and writing scripts for front desk clerks to explain why the hot buffet breakfast has been replaced with a bagged muffin and granola bar. And to top it all off, you’re often delivering it via new systems, such as Zoom meetings or Microsoft Teams, or in spaced-apart classroom meetings that don’t allow you to engage in your standard group learning activities.
All this chaos means one thing: great trainers are definitely needed more than ever by the hospitality world not only so our staff members can continue to provide the best possible service, but also so our guests and employees remain safe and healthy during the pandemic. Those trainers who succeed in this environment will be the ones who – when faced with all this “new” – stick with the “old.” Yes, the tried-and-true fundamentals are still required, even when confronted with a quickly changing world.
Think about the lessons from when you first got into this discipline. Remember that “telling” is not the same as “training”; you cannot send out a lengthy email and expect everyone to read, comprehend, and instantly implement what you’ve written. Additionally, regardless of the content or the manner in which it is delivered, you should incorporate different learning styles, adult learning principles, and specific outcomes into your different programs. You also need to think about the transfer of training from the learning environment back to the operational environment.
“Yes, the tried and true fundamentals are still required, even when confronted with a quickly changing world.”
And of course, don’t forget about this key element: the ADDIE model. It’s the foundation of any successful training program, so you should ask yourself: have you been using it for the new training created since the pandemic started?
For those needing a refresher:
- It starts with “A” for Analysis, where you look at the learners involved, the changes desired, and ascertain whether a training program is truly going to make a difference in the performance gap. If you’re introducing new curbside pickup procedures at a restaurant to lessen the interaction between hospitality guests and staff, for example, then training will probably be the right course to proceed and should be pursued.
- Then we move into the “Ds,” Design and Development, where you determine how to take the learners from an untrained state to a trained state, and exactly what methods you will use to get them there. In this example, just like your curbside procedures are designed to lessen personal interactions to prevent the spread of the virus, this same goal should be present for the training as well; how do you teach workers what they need to know in an environment that lessens physical interactions but still allows for proper instruction?
- Next comes “I” for Implementation, where the new curbside training program is formally launched and the staff receives the information, tools, and job aids necessary to deliver food safely to guests waiting in their cars.
- Finally, there is “E” for Evaluation, where we check to see if the results were liked and learned by the employees, instituted properly at the target locations, and achieved the desired goal (lessening interaction).
Now, if you read the last couple paragraphs and were unsure of what I was talking about, my guess is that you are new to the training game. Welcome, and congratulations on becoming one of the newest visionary leaders in the hospitality field! If you are looking for help learning about becoming a more effective trainer, you have come to the right place. CHART, the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers, has a ton of helpful resources to teach you what you need to know, including the articles in this magazine and on its blog, as well as our training competency series which take a deep dive into the different elements of the profession: trainer, instructional designer, manager, and executive. The instructional designer competencies will be especially relevant in this case, as those courses cover the ADDIE model and the other fundamentals I mentioned.
So yes, even though so much has changed in our industry during this last year, and will continue to evolve in 2021, the cornerstones of proper instruction still apply. Trainers should still be following the same guidelines and incorporating the fundamentals into their work, even if it does add extra time to the project. Cutting corners may get it done faster, but anything whipped up on the fly won’t have the same impact and will most likely be a waste of money for your company in the long-run.