Lessons from a New Trainer on the Block

April 05, 2016 | 2214 Views

Lessons from a New Trainer on the Block

Serah Morrissey, SPHR

Senior Director, People Resources | Schoox

In the ever-evolving world of hospitality, the topics of onboarding and new employee training are often at the forefront, particularly for those of us in charge of the new-hire experience. Rarely do we find ourselves being the new hire, however, as I realized when I recently had my third “first day of work” in 17 years of employment. The trainer was about to become the trainee! 

As I prepared to lead the training efforts at my new hotels, I would like to share the most impactful lessons I have learned as the new trainer, recruiter and human resources executive on the block.

Be the best listener in the hotel. Even the most casual conversations can provide priceless insight as to what employees need. Treat each discussion as a needs analysis, and make notes to discuss with leadership at a later time. Seek input not just from department heads, but from front-line associates. Some of my best learning has come from asking questions of a room cleaner or chatting with the bell person. 

Build credibility. When you’re introducing yourself, mention your education and experience in a way that assures people you know what you’re doing, yet are open to the way things have operated before you arrived. Focus on how your background has provided opportunities for process improvement and talk about a time when you worked as part of a group to make the workplace more efficient or enjoyable. This will show you’re able to collaborate.

Identify internal experts. This is a way to establish relationships and provide recognition to the informal leaders of the organization. Determine which room attendant has the highest cleanliness scores, and invite that person to train with you! I seize the opportunity to utilize the skills of others, especially when it provides an opportunity for a talented associate to be in the spotlight. 

Be humble and show gratitude. There is one guarantee when beginning a new job—you will make mistakes. With humor and humility, embrace the bumps on the road and allow them to showcase your adaptability. It is OK to not have all the answers, but far worse to pretend you do!

Finally, take the time to thank the people who take you under their wings and go out of their ways to help you acclimate to your new home away from home. Then, as the days turn into months and the months turn into years, you will become the welcoming face for future generations of hospitality professionals.  

This blog originally appeared as an article on page 36 of the April 4, 2016 issue of Hotel Management.net 


Serah Morrisey is the complex director of HR, The Westin Edina Galleria and The Sheraton Bloomington hotels in Edina, Minn. She is an active member of the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers. She can be reached at serah.morrissey@westinedinagalleria.com.

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