We Are (Not) The Champions

January 30, 2018 | 2487 Views

We Are (Not) The Champions

Gabe Hosler, FMP

Your training department can deservedly feel an immense amount of satisfaction and accomplishment after completing the development of a new training program.  When the objectives are crystal clear, the text passes spellcheck with flying colors, and the bullet points are perfectly lined up, all that remains is to hit the appropriate button (send/upload/print), and then it’s Miller time, right?

Or in the case of the fish taco biz in San Diego, it’s Corona time! 

But just because you have handed it off to your counterparts in operations for implementation doesn’t mean it’s the end of the story for your department. Even if the training module is practically perfect in every way and contains all the necessary tools for employees to learn and improve, you still have one more task: activating “champions” in your hotels or restaurants to ensure the program will achieve its objectives. 

What do I mean by champions? Well, as I’m sure all of you are aware, the daily routine in hospitality can be quite chaotic as each day brings new challenges for unit managers. On Monday they might have to find replacements for two employees who suddenly quit, prepare for a last-minute banquet request, and deal with a faulty toilet. And then on Tuesday, they might have to deal with an unexpected busload of tourists, a visit from the health inspector, and a lengthy phone call from the payroll administrator to review last week’s timecards. 

As a result of these consistent variations to a manager’s standard routine, even the most fantastic new training program – one that might help bring some needed stability – can get lost in the shuffle. And that’s when champions come into play. The program will need supporters, protectors, and cheerleaders out in the field who can cut through the noise and make sure that the target audiences are aware the module has been launched, understand its importance (to the company and to the trainee), and will want to work hard to complete it. Training champions will also help monitor employee usage, track desired improvements in operational metrics, and celebrate successes with your hotel or restaurant teams. 

I’m sure you’re wondering: can we in the training department serve as our own champions in operations? Since we developed the program, wouldn’t it be best if we went out to the field and performed the required champion tasks? As much as I’d like to say yes, the actual answer is no: we are not the champions. Anyone from the training team visiting the field would be just that – a visitor – and not someone who has a lasting presence or could have repeated follow-up conversations with managers. Additionally, members of the training department are typically outside the chain of command for operations, and in order for a champion to make a real difference, it will help if they have authority over and responsibility for the intended users (especially if a particular team is not meeting specific benchmarks) and an insider’s understanding of the operations at your particular company. 

So I’m sure you’ve figured out it by now: the best champions will be the leadership team that oversees the hotels or restaurants. This team could include a director or vice president of operations, regional managers, multi-unit managers, area coaches, or whatever terms used in your firm. More than anyone else, it will be these people at the top of the division who can ensure the optimal performance of the program, and they are the ones you will need on your side. 

How do you get there and create these champions?  It takes three steps: 

Developing a strong partnership between training leadership and operations leadership does take time, of course, but it’s definitely one worth pursuing so that your team’s hard work (and your celebratory Coronas) aren’t for nothing.

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Comments (3)

  1. Erin Hardy:
    Jan 31, 2018 at 11:15 AM

    This makes perfect sense and is very relevant to a process we'll be implementing this year by having "Market Trainers" and deploying more training restaurants for manager training. We all would love to do it ourselves - that way we know it's been done the way we want it. But delegation as well as having the most relevant person delivering the message means it will be received better! Thanks for the great article.

  2. Sara Anderson:
    Feb 06, 2018 at 05:52 PM

    Gabe, This is spot on! AND a great example to use in the upcoming discussion at CHART - San Diego in the Communication and Influence Competency Session. Thanks!

  3. Jim Sullivan:
    Feb 20, 2018 at 08:32 AM

    Gabe: What a thoughtful, thorough and insightful piece. Couldn't agree with you more, and you nailed the disconnect that routinely occurs between Training and Operations. Great job!