Retain Staff: Focused One-on-One Training

Short training stints conducted before staff members begin shifts are a simple and effective way to increase productivity, create a positive atmosphere, and retain valued employees.

It’s no secret that many organizations in BC’s hospitality industry are looking for creative ways to increase staff retention. Replacing and retraining new staff is time consuming, not to mention costly.

Bernie Lalor-Morton, principal of Focus Forward Coaching & Consulting, is all too familiar with the challenges faced by managers in the food and beverage industry. She is a proponent of providing training in small “bite-size” increments, which she has found to be particularly useful in the food and beverage industry.

Rather than overwhelming the trainee with information, focused and frequent training sessions enable the employee to learn one or two skills at a time. this step-by-step approach allows a manager and employee to spend time one-on-one, focusing on a particular aspect of the employee’s role. The sessions might cover greeting customers, order-taking, or how to handle an inebriated customer, enabling the manager to clearly delineate expectations and offer constructive feedback and praise. The staff person practices the new skill and demonstrates competence before moving on to the next step.

Rather than bringing staff in on overtime for an extended training session, managers can utilize this model at the beginning of a shift and watch their staff practice it throughout the days, providing coaching and direction as needed.

Pub and restaurant managers who take this approach to training feel that it is a means to improve staff performance and increase retention. Bernie remarks that many of the managers she coaches in the food and beverage industry cite staff turnover as one of their biggest challenges. “The funny thing is, when you look at the reasons why people leave, it’s often related to lack of appreciation and training,” Bernie explains. “Staff members don’t get the appreciation or encouragement they need to thrive because they aren’t doing their jobs as well as they could, which in turn stems from the fact that they weren’t trained properly and in an ongoing fashion.”

This concrete, step-by-step approach ensures that training is timely, relevant to the company’s needs, and practiced on the job. It also ensures that staff members aren’t called in for a 6-month review and given an overwhelming laundry list of improvements to make, without ever having been told about expectations they weren’t meeting.

A clear and focused approach to training does more than benefit the employees. Managers gain experience in their role of coach and mentor. They “learn to be more organized, better prepared, and more aware of what they expect of their staff, which benefits the organization as a whole,” Bernie notes. “If managers in the hospitality industry want to have the best employees, the best service, and make a profit, the only way to do that is to create an organization where there is more of a focus on development and learning.”