10 Steps to Empowerment 4: Training

23 Nov

In my previous posts on the topic of empowerment, I discussed clear definition of responsibility, authority, and the importance of high standards.  Nothing can bring these steps together as powerfully as a good training program.  Training, however, is the most neglected management duty in all of fast food.  More often than not, trainees are placed in a position and told to run it the best way that they can.  The trainee is then yelled at when he screws up–which he will screw up, and with good reason.  If he doesn’t know what he’s doing, how can he possibly do it right?

There are many more wrong ways to do something than there are right ones.  Therefore, the odds are in favor of an untrained someone picking the wrong way to do something.  This costs time, money, and could cost you a customer if the mistake is big and noticeable.

With proper training, a lot of this can be avoided.

Training must impart the appropriate skills to the trainees.  To do that, you must employ the right method.  Diane Tracy suggests five methods of training: 1) Classroom, 2) on-the-job, 3) Meetings, 4) one-on-one, 5) setting a good example.   Formalized classroom training is not an option for a crew member, but is indispensable for management personnel.  On-the-job is the best option for crew members.  Staff meetings aren’t always possible across the entire store.  One-on-one training is the best way to do on the job training: pairing a trainee either with yourself or with a trusted crew member is the time-honored fast food tradition.  Finally, setting a good example is important beyond my ability to express it in words.  All eyes, at all times–employee eyes and customer eyes–are on the manager.  Living up to your own expectations is the best way to teach others to do the same.

One additional benefit of training, often overlooked, is that it builds the employee’s self-esteem.  Consider an employee who is told to run the front register, but not trained on how to do that.  What happens when the first really complex order comes up, or what will he do when someone asks him for a Big Mac at Burger King?  He’s likely going to screw it up.

That’s not his fault!  He is doing it the best way that he can think of, on the spot, on the first day that he is employed!  Then, when he messes it up, the manager corrects him and has to fix the mistake.  Depending on how far the mistake got, it is probably going to cost at least time and money to fix, and it may cost the customer.  At the very least, that customer is going to tell his friends about the mistake, and his friends may avoid that place with the “dumb employee and the rude manager.”  Of course, the employee isn’t dumb, and the manager may well have been courteous and professional the entire time, but I doubt that the customer is going to tell it that way.

Had the employee been trained, the mistake may have been avoided and none of that needed to have happened.  The employee does it right the first time, he handles his first situation appropriately, and the manager congratulates him on a job well done.  Since much self-esteem is tied to job satisfaction, this second result works much better for everyone involved–especially the customer, who now generates positive word-of-mouth about the store.

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