Techniques for Effectively Training a New Employee

Training a new employee can be one of the most stressful parts of restaurant management. Especially if the new hire doesn’t have all of the experience needed to jump straight into the weeds. But, one psychological study suggests that learning a new behavior or skill has more to do with someone’s mental state than their innate intelligence. As a restaurant manager, you should be aware of this and learn to cater your training regimen to the individual needs of the trainee. Be sure they still learn all of the processes and skills necessary to succeed in their position, but don’t overwhelm them. Below are tips to effectively train your next new hire.

Organize goals

Think of effective training as a type of project management. If you try to accomplish too much too fast, you’re trainee is bound to fall behind. It can also discourage the trainee and lead to what’s known as self-carping. Self-carping can be described as those nagging thoughts we all have when learning something new: Am I good enough? Am I doing this right? Will I fail?

Keeping your trainee from having these thoughts is of the first priority. Setting attainable, time-oriented goals helps ensure the employee feels they are making progress and allows the manager to make necessary corrections along the way.

Stanford Psychologist Albert Bandura describes how we become more involved and committed to learning new tasks when we set goals in his paper entitled “Negative Self-efficacy and Goal Effects Revisited”. Planning goals with clear aspirations and setting attainable targets helps people manage those natural negative feelings.

Ask metacognitive questions

Psychologists define metacognition as “thinking about thinking”. This includes questioning how you know what you know. This can help you see how a problem is framed and then find a way to work through it.

In terms of training a new employee, asking simple questions such as Do you get this idea? or asking them to explain what you just taught them back to you can help you see where you need to do some extra coaching.

Make it fun…or as fun as training can be

While training may not be all fun, it doesn’t have to be deathly boring either. Watching corporate videos for hours is going to put any trainee to sleep. Some restaurants are now using VR in their training (I almost want to apply just to test out the technology).  Keep it interactive. If you’re demonstrating ways to perform a task keep them talking about what they are seeing or learning. When things are slow let them get their feet wet and test out their newly learned techniques, even if it is just on you to start. 

Get on their level

A large percentage of restaurant employees are millennials who love their smartphones. Leverage a learning management system that helps your employees learn on their schedule. 

Give a quiet space for reflection

It can be difficult to pull a new cook off the line during a busy shift in order to talk to them. But, once there is a lull in the action, or after the shift is over, pull the trainee aside and give them a quiet space to talk to you about the shift. Ask them what they think they did well and where they think they can improve. Making the trainee reflect on what they’ve learned is a key to making sure they are engaged in the training.


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