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Training Your Employees

Dec 25, 2007
Training is a word like "education," easy to say but not too clear at times as to what is meant. Education, it is said, can cure most of the world's woes. Certainly training is a keystone of good food service.

Time was when highly skilled cooks from Italy, France, and Germany came to this country in large numbers and it was not unusual to hear no English spoken in the kitchens of the fine restaurants. Today this source of skilled labor is negligible, and high cuisine is less popular, not as highly prized as it was before World War I.

Management's Responsibility for Training

This leaves the big job of training to restaurant management. Trade schools and colleges are not going to do it. Trade associations will not be able to do it. You, the operator on the job, will do it by training on the job. State restaurant associations like Texas and Indiana are showing how a training program can train supervisors to train employees.

Fine educators like Travis Elliot can help managers learn how to train. The National Restaurant Association can sponsor management short courses. But, when the chips are down, 85 percent of the training must be done on the job. Food sanitation courses and traveling training courses can supplement what you do, but they can never substitute for on-the-job orientation and training.

Training is a continuous function in restaurants, the process by which information, skills, and attitudes are communicated to others. Inexperienced employees are taught how to perform their jobs. New employees, experienced or not, must learn the particular recipes, equipment, and ways of doing things in their new jobs. Better methods, better equipment replace yesterday's ways and are explained to all employees through training. Micro-wave cookery, for example, will necessitate re-training of all cooks using it.

Supervisors tend to work at and emphasize those aspects of their job which management emphasizes. Management must continually emphasize training and give recognition to supervisors who are training-conscious. Giving salary increases and promotions to supervisors who are good trainers is part of insuring employee training.
Through training we give something more valuable than money by giving the person new skills and information. We help to make the employee more valuable to himself and to the restaurant, give him self-reliance and make management's job easier.

Training Pointers

1. Have Patience. Rome was not built in a day. Neither can a good fry cook, dishwasher, desk clerk, or porter be trained in "one easy lesson." Expect to repeat... and repeat... and repeat.

2. Avoid Criticism of the Old Way. No one wants to feel that the way he has been doing a job is wrong. Use the approach, "Here is a better way." Never put anyone "on the spot."

3. Put yourself in the Learner's Place. Recognize that learning is work. Take the learner along with you a step at a time. What seems easy to you may have taken you months to learn.

4. Speed Learning with Plenty of Praise. Praise, not criticism, speeds learning. Encouragement is oil to the wheels of the mind. Most supervisors give far too little praise. Look for things to praise.

5. Set Realistic Goals. Set a goal that the learner can reach. Let him experience success in each step of the training road. Start off with easy standards. Step them up as the learner progresses.

6. Recognize Different Mental Capacities. Some employees can learn twice as fast as others. Don't be disappointed with our friends who are not very bright. They may make the best porters, dishwashers, or maids.

7. Start with a Job Breakdown. The trainer needs a plan of teaching. Without the plan he is like a home builder without blueprints.

8. Space the Training Periods. Learning is more efficient when it is spread out. A half hour a day is probably enough training for most jobs. Learning goes on in the mind between training sessions.

9. Be Positive, Encouraging, Optimistic - But Do Not Expect Miracles. Remember also that if the employee has not learned, the trainer has not taught.

Follow the above rules and you will have a happy, well-trained workforce.
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