In order to maintain standards and encourage growth, your employees need top-notch training and ongoing support. Each member of your staff will join your team with his/her own unique level of experience. A comprehensive training program will help get everyone on the same page and ultimately improve staff performance across the board. Here are seven areas to consider including in your program for on-boarding and beyond.
Everyone joining your team comes with a different background, so it’s important to set expectations and lay a strong foundation on Day One to ensure your team has a clear understanding of your businesses and their respective roles within it. One of the first steps in the training process is orientation. Topics to cover include a background and history of your business, human resource processes, payroll-related tasks, a tour of the restaurant, as well as introductions to management and other team members. Since there are many ways to learn and absorb information, it is extremely helpful to provide training materials, like an employee handbook for your new hires to refer to -- during and after their training is complete.
After orientation, you will want to begin the formal education of the essential elements of your restaurant and training on day-to-day responsibilities. It is helpful to provide a formal schedule for training your team, being mindful to timebox the various areas you want to cover and allow time for questions. Important topics vary by position; some examples include hands-on point-of-sale system training and food storage/prep, role-playing for consistency in guest relations and serving techniques, and providing an overview of running food, accepting reservations, clearing tables, taking orders, etc.
After formally explaining the restaurant operations and procedures, a shadowing shift allows a new employee to learn by observing (i.e., shadowing) a more seasoned staff member so that they can replicate the process. Shadowing should cover the same topics as the education process in a real-time setting.
Performance reviews are a fundamental way of tracking an employee’s progress. After shadowing, evaluating your new employees is important to assess how well they understand the material and if they are able to carry out their responsibilities accordingly. A test (verbal or written) can be helpful to assess what areas your team understands and which may need more training. Additionally, spending time each day observing your new staff members is important to providing constructive feedback for improvement and a way to avoid bad habits from forming. Scheduling spot checks and regular reviews will help you understand how your team is performing.
Training, while more intense during the on-boarding process, should be ongoing with your team. Holding regular refresher sessions before service, staff meetings, and using the time at family-meal for more than just dinner, will help your staff recall information you've covered before and act as an opportunity to train your staff in new techniques and approaches.
Cross-training is a great way for your team to gain a foundation in other positions essential to the daily operations of the restaurant. Some examples of cross-training include: having your employees spend time on the food line, behind the bar, with the dishwashers, and working with the host/hostess to greet and seat diners. By cross-training your team, you’ll become more flexible in their duties and give them a better understanding of what it takes to run the restaurant successfully.
In addition to retesting the entire staff on new menu items and performance reviews, mystery diners are a great way of collecting feedback about service, employee efficiency, food quality and the overall guest experience. Sending in mystery diners is a great litmus test for helping to identify your team’s strengths and areas to improve.