- Monday 11 June 2018
The costs of poorly trained and under-skilled employees are obvious, and although perhaps hard to calculate specifically, these costs manifest themselves in lost customers, higher wastage, lower productivity and inefficient use of management time as they correct problems caused due to lack of training.
Every hospitality and tourism manager already knows these facts and you would imagine that as a result, on-the-job training was a priority in every business. Sure, nobody denies that skills training in the workplace is vital, but when you lift the hood in most businesses you’ll find that training can be very ad-hoc and unstructured. The reasons? There are many naturally, but the most common reason given is ‘lack of time’.
Sure, hospitality and tourism, driven as it is by customer demands, does create many unique challenges in managing on-the-job training but of all industries the need for training is greatest because employees make or break the customer experience.
There is no pretence that managing on-the-job training will ever be easy but the first step to improvement in this area is to consider the current position by reflecting on the questions ahead:
Identifying Training Needs
This is a vital step in ensuring consistency in employee skill levels and it applies to new and existing employees. And remember, the real question you need to ask yourself here is not whether someone can do a particular task, but rather can they do it to the ‘standard required’. Even experienced employees may not be doing certain tasks to the correct standard: they might have developed shortcuts which could impact on the customer experience – that’s a training need.
- How does this activity happen at present across your business, or in your department?
- How is customer feedback integrated into this analysis to identify common skills gaps?
- How are employees views about their training needs gathered?
On-the-job training, like any other type of training, must be planned in advance; otherwise it doesn’t happen, or not enough of it happens. Plus, as indicated your front-line managers will always tell you they ‘don’t have time to train’, so you have to force the discipline of planning training on them.
- How is on-the-job training currently planned?
- How are managers and supervisors monitored in terms of their creation of training plans?
- Who coordinates the training across all areas of the business?
- Are training plans adequately costed and resourced?
- How is paperwork reduced in the planning process?
Whatever system you end up with, you should be able to look at any department or section of your business on a Monday morning and identify what on-the-job training is planned for the coming week. If not, the system is broken.
It goes without saying that those who provide skills training should, one, be good at training others (and have a passion for it) and, two, be able to train people to the right standard (not ‘their way’).
- Are there designated skills trainers in your business?
- Failing that, do the relevant managers and supervisors who deliver training have the necessary trainer profile and skills?
- What are employees telling you about the skills training they receive?
- How are quality standards communicated during the training session?
Unless the skills training is effectively delivered it will have limited impact and being an good manager/supervisor does not always mean he/she will make a good trainer too.
Finally, your system needs to allow for the testing of competence to ensure that people can consistently – and that word is key – do a particular task the correct way.
- How does assessment of training happen at present?
- Can you pinpoint improvement in customer feedback after training has been delivered to address problems identified?
Clearly the above four stages are part of an interconnected, circular process which involves both more structured on-the-job training sessions and informal coaching, but the value of ensuring the consistency of skills between your employees should not be overlooked. Some key steps to improving your approach in this area include:
Training is always difficult to manage in a fast-paced environment like hospitality and tourism but there is no getting away from the fact that without the required skills, employees cannot deliver a memorable customer experience.
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