The planning and scheduling of the more common and often required types of training (customer service skills, complaint handling, selling skills) does not present too much of a problem — it is simply scheduled a number of times each year according to projected staff turnover levels or conducted in an ad hoc manner according to needs. Development training is more difficult to plan.
Three key factors influence the requirement for development training:
Training should be allocated when the skills displayed by a member of staff do not match those required to do the job they occupy. In most hospitality businesses this is done on a very subjective basis by managers who are too busy, or who have not themselves been trained to do the job properly. Training is often allocated either as an answer to performance that has become a problem, as a reward, or as a motivational exercise.
The effectiveness of development training can be increased significantly by the introduction of objective, monthly performance appraisal. Sometimes known as Management by Objectives (MBO), a regular performance appraisal system would force managers to define all jobs more clearly, set performance standards, set goals and direct efforts through regular communication that might not otherwise occur.
Performance appraisal enables training and development to be allocated in a fair and efficient manner, and it forces managers to perform the operational follow-up (discussion, goal setting, review) after training has been given to staff. It also provides an objective means to base promotion, thus eliminating favouritism, nepotism, sexism and corruption from your business.
We give you a caution at this point, against rejecting the notion of performance appraisal as useful because of experiences you may have had in other businesses. For performance appraisal to work there must be clearly visible commitment from the senior management to use it properly. A number of businesses we have observed go through the motions of using the system (once a year, or very infrequently), but only to please their Personnel or Human Resources departments, and the results are filed without follow-up — this is an expensive and disruptive waste of time.
The expansion of your business or the opening of new properties will require the provision of duplicate teams of key personnel. The development of these people must be planned and co-ordinated at a very senior level, and the money to carry excess staff must be clearly approved as part of the set-up cost of the new enterprise.
Recruiting key personnel from outside is always a gamble and is usually expensive (in terms of recruitment costs, salary package and time to settle-in). A far more effective method is to develop duplicate management and supervisory staff internally, over a period of a year or so prior to expanding or a new opening.
The process begins with the recruitment of sufficient numbers of junior management who have the potential to move upward. During times of continual expansion it is a good idea to fill all management positions with ambitious and capable people to ensure a constant pool of talent to expand from. Staff earmarked for development can then be placed under the tutorage of the person performing the job they are required to fill in the new property, and go through a thorough training process while acting as an assistant.
It is common to find that Australian hospitality companies train their supervisory and management staff ‘on the run’ i.e., staff are trained for the position they occupy after having been thrown in at the deep end and expected to swim. This can prove very stressful for the victim, and often results in failure and termination. In principle, it is better to train a person for the next position they will occupy, before they inherit the responsibility in one lump. They can then move up temporarily, when their superior is on leave or absent, and run their section (as distinct from caretaking).
Managers should be encouraged (forced?) to train their own successors. This is highly unusual in the hospitality industry, which is better known for the persecution of contenders to the throne than for the development of them. Some companies outside the industry go as far as to state as a matter of policy that staff are not eligible for promotion until they have prepared a successor. There is wisdom in this thinking; otherwise you are simply solving a problem (job vacancy) by creating another problem (unfillable vacancy lower down).