By now you've most likely broken any resolutions you've made, but one promise you must keep is to develop your team. Experts and operators tell Tom Vaughan [Caterer and Hotelkeeper] how they're planning the training and inspiration to get the best out of their staff.
Giving up smoking; joining a gym; starting that diet; deep down, we all know that our New Year resolutions won't last a month when it comes to the crunch. So rather than making yourself promises that you won't keep this January, why not make your staff promises you can keep, and put aside some time to properly map out a training programme for the coming 12 months?
The more prepared among you may well have had this all wrapped up long before the Christmas presents – ask Fred Sirieix, general manager at London's Galvin at Windows, who by early December had a daily, weekly and monthly training programme planned for 2012. However, it is by no means too late to sit down, on your own and with your staff, and work out what you are going to do to develop them over the coming year.
If the purse strings are tight in these dire financial straits, don't make training the fall guy. It is a common misconception that training has to cost a lot of money, says Institute of Hospitality chief executive Philippe Rossiter. “People think that training has to mean sending staff on a course and it is simply not true. Soft training is a great weapon to have, especially in the quieter months such as January. It is generally accepted that there is a skills deficiency in hospitality, especially when it comes to customer service and leadership. Use that time to bring someone in for some cost-efficient training or refresher training. Rather than send them off on a course, set aside an hour, bring someone in and do a masterclass.”
And while it may not be the most riveting side of training, says Rossiter, the amount of e‑learning now available for topics such as health and safety and food hygiene means employers can easily sit employees down at a computer during a dead hour.
Jane Sunley, CEO of hospitality training firm Learnpurple, says that looking for outside help should be a company's last option. “There are so many cheaper, more cost-effective ways of training staff that you should think of first. For example, one that we recommend very highly is a mentoring scheme. It takes a bit of organising, as the mentors need to be trained slightly in their new roles, but otherwise it is a no-brainer – you have people in your business with knowledge, and people without. Why not team them up?”
The most important thing, says Sunley, is to know what qualities make your employees stand out from the rest, not to try and outsource every aspect of training. “It's a strange thing for a training firm to be saying, but we work best with people who know what they want from their employees. Leadership needs to be taught from the bottom up, by people who know what leadership within your company involves.”