Think like a coach: Train your team year-round

Aug. 22, 2014
Think like a coach: Train your team year-round

More hours of daylight in the evening and warmer weather. In the service industry, those two signs typically point toward more foot traffic in your restaurant, so the pure mention of more employee training probably has you shaking your head and quoting YouTube phenom Sweet Brown: “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

The truth is, you have to make time for training. Career development is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. New hire orientation, plus a few hours on the first day, won’t cut it. You’ve got to create a long-term career progression strategy, and it all starts with changing your mindset about what training was, is and will be down the road.

Any season is the reason

Think about your favorite sports team. The restaurant biz is often just as seasonal. You both have days when every seat in the house is packed. You also have the slow days. Pro baseball teams don’t show up right before the first pitch expecting to be great. They prepare for it. There’s spring training, strength and conditioning, stretching, batting practice and more. Your team needs the same kind of constant prep work, regardless of whether it’s game day or the off-season. When pro teams get beat, it’s usually because the other team was better prepared. By not making training a priority, the competition will beat you, too.

Put me in, Coach

Now think about your favorite coach growing up. Maybe that person coached you through football practice, math class or a recital. That person made an impact on you because he or she made you work to be your best on the field, in the classroom or on stage. That person stayed on you because he or she cared about your performance and your progression. In return, you cared back. Imagine if all of your team members cared that much about their jobs. A little (or a lot in some cases) more guidance can make all the difference.

Train when it counts

When business is good, training tends to take a backseat. The backwards thing about that is that most of the training you get in the restaurant biz is put to the best use when you’re busy. Don’t save employee training and development for the slow season. Give your team members the tools they need to be more productive and provide better customer service when it counts: when you’re busy.

You can always afford it

Besides not having enough time, another anti-training excuse is, “We can’t afford it.” What you really can’t afford is turnover. Treat career development like the investment that it is. When you invest in your team, you’re telling them you believe their career is worthy of the time, effort and money you’re spending. It tells them they’re a part of something meaningful. They’ll repay you over and over and over again in productivity, work ethic, team spirit and loyalty.

Get happy

By creating a culture of career growth, you’re setting your team members up for success and satisfaction. When employees are confident in their skills, they perform better and are happier. That’s where the trickle down effect comes into play. A well-trained, happy staff makes for happy customers. And happy customers mean a happy bottom line for your business.

Fight the whirlwind

It’s easy to let the whirlwind take over. We all get busy and caught up in the day-to-day must-dos, but if we don’t teach our team to master the fundamentals, they can’t conquer the fancy stuff. Rocking the fancy stuff is where you’ll find your best leaders – the ones who grow with your business, who make sure stuff gets done when others are sick or on vacation and who step in to train the next group of folks...the right way.

The KISS principle

If you haven’t heard of it, KISS stands for “Keep it simple, stupid.” Make your training easy to access. By taking advantage of a workforce management platform that offers video and online learning, you’ve got a quick and easy way to get a lot of information out to a lot of people at one time. Mobile training tools also allow managers to keep track of upcoming and overdue courses and let team members stay on track, even on the go. Got updates or changes in policies and procedures? No problem. Online and mobile training keeps it simple.

Tend to your team

Training a great team is a lot like tending to a garden. If you only water and pull the weeds once a year, your plants won’t grow. But give them the TLC they need and deserve, and they’ll thrive. And everybody’s got time for that. Thrive on!

Nate DaPore is the founder, president and CEO of PeopleMatter, a workforce management platform designed to fit the specific needs of service-industry brands. Automating and optimizing people processes since 2009, PeopleMatter helps more than 41,000 service-industry locations thrive through better efficiency, engagement and customer satisfaction. PeopleMatter is headquartered in Charleston, SC and on the Web at

Topics: Staffing & Training

Companies: PeopleMatter

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