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By: Chuck Gohn

Training Employees - Part 1 of 2

Training employees never just happens - it is the result of a conscious effort on the part of the trainer and the trainee. Too often trainers say things like, "I can't understand why he can't perform; I told him; I even showed him how!" Showing is not training; telling is not training; testing is not training. These functions imply activity that is one-way and instructor-oriented.

Job training is the processes of helping an employee acquire the necessary knowledge, skill, and work habits to perform a specific job. Failure to help employees get started properly results in needless expense, high levels of employee frustration, and increased turnover rates.

Planned training saves time and cost much less than letting people learn "the hard way". It reduces waste. It helps to insure safe work habits. It reduces employee frustration. It prevents the learning of incorrect work habits, which will have to be unlearned later. It helps to insure guest satisfaction.

While people are all different in their emotional reactions to the learning situation, typical new employees and those learning a new skill want to do a good job. They will do a good job if someone helps them get started properly and gives them information on how they are doing. You are that someone. You are expected to do it through effective job training. That's what job training is - helping people to acquire the necessary knowledge, skill and work habits to do a good job.

There are always two people involved in the training process, the trainer who has the knowledge and skills to do the job, and the learner who must acquire them. The process of transferring this know-how from one person to another is much like TV and radio broadcasting. The trainer is the transmitter and the learner is the receiver. In both instances there is a certain amount of static or interference, which must be overcome.

No two trainees are exactly alike. Their personalities were set long before you ever employed them. Each individual has a different level of desire to learn the job, degree of nervousness, knowledge, and previous experience. If you, the trainer, do not make reasonable allowance for these differences, the message may not get through to the learner.

In fact there are several fundamental principles or keys of learning which you must understand and put into practice if the training you do is to be effective.

These ten keys are points, which will aid you in accomplishing your task of training crew members. While you are reading, think about how you would apply each point in your situation.

Key 1 - People learn best when fresh.
Trainees are much more able and willing to learn when they are both mentally and physically fresh. Find time when this criterion is met. Avoid scheduling training at the ed of a shift or after the trainee has worked a busy period. If necessary, schedule a trainee to begin an hour earlier than the traditional starting time.

Key #2 - People learn best in a non-threatening climate.
While some people think that keeping trainees thoroughly intimidated will make them "Pay attention", quite the opposite is true. Stress inhibits learning. We should attempt to keep trainees as relaxed as possible. Learning a new job or skill creates enough stress by itself

Key #3 - People learn better when the purpose of the skill or task is known
If you want to facilitate learning, provide the "end use" of the function. Describe the ultimate result. "We are learning how to cook, hold, and assemble burrito's to provide guest satisfaction through quality food and speed of service". Failing to inform the trainees of this purpose allows their minds to wander during the process. Sometimes the end use may be obvious to us but hidden to the trainees.

Key #4 - People learn better when the "why's" are explained along with the "what's" and "how's".
Each "what" or "how" will be learned faster and retained longer if a "why" accompanies it. If you want the trainee to flip the tortilla from the grill at a certain time, you should tell him or her what to look for that would indicate it is time to flip or remove the tortilla. Also explain how the tortilla will look if it is flipped too soon or too late. Now he or she can visualize the consequences!

Key #5 - People learn faster when they are provided "feedback".
Feedback is "information provided to enhance performance". It means that as a trainer you must give your trainees a response to their efforts. Responses can be verbal or non-verbal. Nods of the head, an "okay" or "that's it" are simple, yet effective, examples of keeping the trainees on track and positive in attitude. A more formal type of feedback is the "critique" step in the training process. There we will emphasize the use of positives before the critical comments.

Chuck Gohn is President of The Food & Beverage Manager. For a free subsciption to his on-line newsletter e-mail or visit his website at

About the author:  Chuck Gohn is President of The Food & Beverage Manager. For a free subscription to his on-line newsletter send an email request or visit his website at

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