Whether outsourcing your training program or developing it internally, it’s important not to skip these four steps if you want the training to count and make a difference in your organization.
1. Know what results you want. What do you want your employees to be trained to do? Notice the word, do. If the goal of the program is to train them to provide excellent guest service, translate this into actions. And train them on these actions. Fill in the blanks: I want them to be able to _____. Answer this first and build the program around it. It’s difficult to know what results you want if you don’t do a needs assessment. What do they need to be trained to do? If employees see an opportunity for career growth and are trained on something that will help them do their job better, buy-in’s a lot easier. So let’s say you ultimately want to build a training program that improves guest service. To do this, you can fill in the blanks with several things. I want them to be able to deescalate situations. I want them to have positive body language. I want them to quickly meet guest needs.
2. Make it relevant. Training that’s disconnected to the organization’s day-to-day reality and its personality will be met with resistance. To cement its relevance, a training program should be connected to the industry, brand, guest profile, marketing theme, mission and values. Training that’s irrelevant will be a waste of money and time. Let’s say you’re developing this training in a casino. You’ve outsourced the training, and in comes someone who has a great program that’s worked quite well in hotels. Well, hotels are different from casinos. The housekeeper in a hotel isn’t shouted at for removing someone’s lucky ashtray. A beverage server in a hotel isn’t serving someone who’s lost thousands of dollars and feels like he’s been waiting for three hours to get a drink because time goes all gooey in a casino (deliberately so). In this situation, you’re not addressing the day-to-day realities. You can understand those realities by speaking with line-level employees and even shadowing them.
3. Use Modern Methods. The world has changed. You’ll get the opposite of buy-in if you pop in a VCR tape and dim the lights. That’s extreme, but other methods are tired, too. The PowerPoint, overused or used poorly, coupled with a lecture won’t cut it anymore. Trainers need to use a mixture of all the tools available to them: Group activities, collaboration, multimedia, physical activities, manipulation of materials, individual problem solving, role plays and simulation, writing activities, research, readings, etc.
4. Put Training into Practice. You can’t get buy-in if training amounts to a one-time session, and the contents of the training are never discussed again or made practical. Think about it. I took two years of French in high school. I never spoke French again after that, barring a few butchered phrases I used on a trip to Paris. It was never used, so I didn’t retain the language. Same goes with training. Use it or lose it. And if you use it enough, it becomes routine. It becomes the social norm. Employees will buy-in to training if it assists them with fitting into the organization. Also, incorporate the results you want into performance evaluations and handbooks. Develop employee incentive programs around it. Make the training on-going and pervasive until the desired results become habit. Follow through with refreshers, and turn your best-trained employees into trainers.