4 Really Bad Training Nuggets & 1 Good One

Training, as it stands in most companies, is broken. It’s transactional at best and completely irrelevant at it’s worst.

Case in point: what follows are four ideas put forth at a recent gathering of corporate chain trainers that outline the problems with the really bad thinking behind most training today, Then I leave you with the one really good idea – but don’t skip to the bottom to see what it is. This is a short read so do the work. And the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Bad Idea #1. “Gamification can be an effective method for engaging employees in the training process. One example that you could use is _____, a free app that allows trainers to design interactive quizzes for learning sessions. And unlike traditional training discussions where you might only hear from the top 2 or 3 participants, using a game like _____ allows everyone in the room to get involved with and get excited about the learning.”

  1. Gamification is the last thing you want to use as a tool in training due to the fact that relationships are not sport. Using it to teach employees how to serve or cashier or talk to Guests dilutes the impact of real, organic engagement. It’s manipulative and only as good as the guy who wrote the answers.
  2. If you’re only hearing from 2-3 participants in a training session, the wrong manager(s) hired the wrong people. You need engaging and personable people on your staff and hiring folks who can’t speak or engage in a setting they’re getting paid to attend is a sure sign your hiring processes and expectations are not aligned with your business goals.
  3. They’re not getting excited about the learning, they’re getting excited in anticipation of the reward.

Bad Idea #2 “We used to spend a lot of time searching for perfect team members, and then on Day 1 at [Corporate Restaurant Brand], we would try to turn them into someone else by forcing them to follow a bunch of canned scripts when dealing with guests. It didn’t feel natural, and it didn’t work well, so now we provide our team members with a guide that outlines the basics of what to say, but then we invite them to add their own flourishes so that it feels more personal and more authentic.”

  1. Canned scripts don’t work so let’s use canned suggestions? Puhhhleease! Canned is canned. If you can’t find employees who can articulate a reason or level of understanding for engaging with Guests other than the ones you give them, you’re programming, not training.
  2. “Feels more personal..” It won’t be personal and authentic unless (drum roll please) it’s actually personal and authentic. Singing the same song only in a different key is still the same song and gets old for those listening over and over and over again.

Bad Idea #3.” If an employee comes up with a cost-saving or sales-building idea, think about giving them a ‘fraction of the action.’ By not keeping all of the money for yourself, you’ll forge a mutually beneficial relationship with your staff members and develop a workplace where you can both profit from their creative thinking. And that’s what will lead to more creative thinking from them in the future.”

  1. I’m not against sharing the wealth, in fact we should, but what do you do the other 364 days of the year?
  2. And when’s the last time you had a ‘mutually beneficial relationship’ based solely on money?
  3. Also, behavioral science tells us (and has for a very long time) that monetary rewards only create an anticipation for the reward but does NOT change behavior in the interim.
  4. Also, employees have told us in no uncertain terms for decades that money isn’t as big a motivator as real growth, or feeling like their work contributes to something greater than themselves.
  5. But hey, money is easy. I get it. It just doesn’t work for what we want: long(er)-term service, more authentic engagement from real interest and concern.

Bad Idea #4. “We like to look through the lens of the learner when developing and implementing training and development materials at [Corporate Restaurant Brand] and tie-in a quality of life take-away for the end user to answer the question of “what’s in it for me” and get their buy-in. Just as we would create a marketing campaign to tell guests why they should buy a new product, we create these same types of campaigns to sell our new training materials to the employees.”

  1. Why do you have to look through the lens of the learner? Have you forgotten we’re all learners? Do your materials appeal to you personally? And they probably do, they’re yours after all. Why is that? Because you have more EXPERIENCE which has shown you why it’s important that you do what you do. So don’t give them slogans, give them real-world experience
  2. And what did you add before, anti-quality of life take-a-ways?
  3. This one isn’t as bad on the surface, but can turn you into a frog in a boiling pot of bad culture if the focus isn’t on opportunity for growth through deeper and more authentic relationships – with both Guests and colleagues. This means employees have to experience what it is you want them to do. We’ve been saying it for four decades now,’you can’t execute a level of hospitality, you yourself have never experienced’. All the slogans and ‘feel-good’ measures can’t replace having been there and done that.

And now the good one!

“We ask our staff members to provide a high level of hospitality to our guests, but we also ask them to provide that same level to the other employees. When we train new hires to make eye contact, smile, and greet those they encounter, for example, we ask them to do so with both guests and co-workers. Everyone should receive the same treatment whether they are staying at [Corporate Hospitality Brand] or working at [Corporate Hospitality Brand].”

  1. We call this the “200% Rule” – You’re responsible for your behavior and also for the behavior of the person next to you.
  2. If you can’t be engaging with those you work with, who trudge through the effort with you, then how can you be expected to be engaging with people who you will only encounter for a short while and who have absolutely no stake in trying to understand your bad mood or sour disposition?

OK, here’s one more issue while we’re on the topic of training: controlling costs.

Training an employee costs between $700-$1,200 per employee. Expensive? Eh, what’s the alternative? You know the punchline: “what if we don’t train them and they stay?”

Real training (Coaching) is an investment for which you should expect a return. Plus you should be factoring in the lost opportunity cost of not training. That’s how you think about training cost. If you can’t translate the return into an actual dollar figure then you don’t really understand the work being done in the first place.

For four decades, my Coaching, Consulting, & Learning Events have helped thousands of hospitality leaders worldwide, build successful businesses. Call or text me at +1-817-797-2929 or email me at Jeffrey@JeffreySummers.com.