The Promise of the New Year
By Jane Auster
The Babylonians were thought to be the first people to make New Year's resolutions. The ancient Romans, following the two-faced god Janus, also took this time to reflect on the year just passed and look ahead at the year to come.
How does this relate to the hospitality industry?
"In today's economy, there will be fewer occasions, dollars will be spent more judiciously, and customers will expect excellent service," says Peter Shrive, partner with recruiter Cambridge Management Planning. “If your staff give what they always have, you and they will get what they've always gotten."
What better way to make a fresh impact on your operation than by resolving to kickstart your employee training?
Here are 10 resolutions you won't want to break:
1. Plan for change. To keep a New Year's resolution, you have to be prepared for it, says Shrive. To kickstart your employee training, first do your homework. Do you know what your guests think of your service? Find out through suggestion boxes and comment cards and consider an incentive such as a free dessert to guests who share their impressions.
2. Benchmark your employees. Measure their strengths and weaknesses and create competency profiles. “If you're basing your training on your personal observations, you'll wind up with a cloned group of you," says Shrive. That's why you need solid employee data to support your new training.
3. Publish an employee manual with what you expect from your staff. If you expect servers to handle more tables, how many more? Do you expect them to clean more rooms? How many more and in what shift? If you expect a standard, you must publish the standard and train against it.
4. Communicate your vision. Use newsletters, bulletins, staff meetings, breakout sessions to ensure all your employees are on the same page.
5. Set up recognition and praise programs; start from the top. “A quote we often use is ‘People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel,'" says Roberta Nedry, president of Hospitality Excellence, Inc. Employees will treat guests the way they've been treated, so it will help your hospitality operation to help staff feel recognized. Consider first training your managers and supervisors on how to give their staff effective praise.
6. Reinforce your mission statement and standards of service. These are essential to any hospitality organization. Use training, involving role-playing and discussions of real situations, to show how problems can be resolved.
7. Set up a training schedule for the year. Nedry recommends these modules:
- Teamwork and team effectiveness
- Leadership and leading service excellence
- Guest/customer experience management
- Recognition and how to give effective praise
- Service and quality needs assessments
- Guest perception studies
- Telephone techniques
- Service excellence
8. Don't be afraid to call in professional trainers. Sometimes it takes outsiders to assess your hospitality organization's training needs and employee strengths and weaknesses.
9. Keep employees motivated and producing. Accountability is the key to motivation and producing. “People only do what is expected, when it is inspected," says Nedry. Design ways for employees to make a commitment to their job performance and give them the understanding, tools and support to accomplish that. Offer refresher courses, online and other education and regular discussion sessions.
10. Recognize excellence. “Acknowledge even the tiniest step forward," advises Shrive. “Give everyone a half hour off for a special occasion, offer a huge dinner for special employee anniversaries, surprise employees performing well with ‘instant' tips." Acknowledge even the simplest act of public behavior with spontaneous rewards.
Finally, resolve to remember that if you endorse, entice, applaud, reward and publicly recognize positive improvement, in the end you'll win. Your team will provide the best service, and your customers will resolve to return again and again.
Happy New Year!