Well trained employees, not unlike fine wine

November 08, 2014 | 2048 Views

Well trained employees, not unlike fine wine

Gabe Hosler, FMP

Recently I had the opportunity to tour a winery in Napa, not far from the upcoming CHART 89th Hospitality Training conference.  I couldn’t help but notice a similarity in all of the intricacies to wine making compared to training and developing employees.  Wine makers will tell you there are endless ways of creating wine and all deliver product of varying degrees of quality.

Growing the grapes and attracting quality candidates…

As our guide walked us through the vineyard she showed us a small garden adjacent to the fields.  The garden was interesting because it was full of fruits and vegetables and none of them were grapes.  Our guide explained that the purpose of the garden is to attract ‘good’ insects that keep away the ‘bad’ insects that eat the grapes.  This reminded me of the old saying ‘good employees attract good employees’.  Through maintaining a well-developed team we attract high caliber candidates and in turn dissuade the not so fitting candidates.  Over the years I have always said that your current employees are the best way to attract new employees.  “Bring a friend to work tomorrow and I guarantee a meal and an interview” I’d say.  You’d be surprised how many great candidates are out there that are connected to your current employees, you just have to empower your great employees to bring them in.  By training and developing your current workforce we are investing in a self-sustaining environment.  Like the vineyard who invests in its crops to attract ‘good’ insects through an organic method, I believe in organically growing my team.

Harvesting, pressing and training the hard skills…

Arguably the most standard step in the process; removing the leaves and pressing the grapes reminds me of the early steps of training the hard skills to our employees.  As I said earlier, the interesting part about wine making is that there are endless methods to winemaking that create varying degrees of quality.  From the lowest to the highest grade brands, this introductory step is imperative to a quality employee.  Whether you invest in a structured training plan or a basic on-the-job plan, you have to give your employees this basic step otherwise like the wine, you’ll just be stuck with rotting grapes.

Fermentation, aging and developing the soft skills…

Once we train the hard skills, continuing to develop the soft skills is key to growing the skills of a quality employee.  Like a great bottle of wine you have to maintain the proper environment in order to properly develop a quality employee over the long-term.   A well maintained environment can be the difference between a $10 generic box wine at the local convenience store and a bottle of Chateau Lafite’s 1869 vintage valued at $230K.  As we toured the winery in Napa we saw their underground storage where they barrel age their Cabernet Sauvignon to create a rich full bodied flavor as well as their cool refrigerated barn where their Sauvignon Blanc is fermented and aged in cool stainless steel tanks to produce a light crisp flavor.  Our guide explained that the different environments create their signature flavors.  This reminds me of the cultures that we create in our hotels and restaurants.  There are so many different styles and like the varying methods for making wine, they all have their own ways of working and producing a unique employee.

Whether you come from a quick casual or fine dining restaurant, a boutique hotel or mega resort what we all share is the need to recruit, train and develop our teams.  There are endless methods that work and result in varying degrees of quality.  Like fine wine making, it takes a passion for quality and a commitment.  I believe what we do is an art form and with a growing hospitality industry, we have an opportunity to create a fine vintage of employees.  I look forward to continuing the growth of our industry at the upcoming CHART 89th Hospitality Training conference in Napa.  Who knows... I might even enjoy a little wine as well :-)

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