You Down with OJT? 2 Ways to Improve On-the-Job Training

August 30, 2019 | 1811 Views

You Down with OJT? 2 Ways to Improve On-the-Job Training

Patrick Yearout, FMP, CHT

Director of Innovation, Recruiting, and Training | Ivar's & Kidd Valley Restaurants

This article first appeared in the March 2019 issue of Hotel Management Magazine.

If you were to add up the time spent in the past year when one employee taught job skills to another in all your hotels, what would that total be? If you work for a smaller company with 10 locations, each with 10 employees who each received only 1 minute of on-the-job training from a co-worker per week, the answer would be 173 hours in 2018 if you include both trainer and trainee time.

But just 1 minute of OJT per employee per week is unrealistically low, isn’t it? Consider that a larger hotel chain with 100 locations, each with 100 employees who each received 100 minutes per week, would be paying for an astonishing 1,733,333 hours!

OJT training represents a huge percentage of the overall training that goes on in hospitality. According to the 2017 “Trends in Hospitality Training and Development” survey conducted by the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers and analysts TDn2K, OJT training was the dominant form of instruction in virtually every discipline. How confident are you that this type of training is being delivered properly and consistently in your organization? For many of you, the answer is probably “not very.” But because OJT represents an overwhelming amount of the training that is taking place in your hotels, it deserves to get some of your attention as well, so here are two suggestions to improve it:

Attend training sessions:

Get out of the office, visit multiple locations, participate as a trainee and ask some of your crew trainers to show you the ropes on a particular workstation or routine as if you were a new hire. Bring a checklist with you to make sure you’re given realistic outcomes to achieve, all the steps are covered, all the correct tools are available and that the trainer offers relevant feedback, and then use these experiences to determine if a course correction is needed. And if you don’t have time to take on this challenge, ask your staff members to perform these evaluations for you.

Discuss trainer selection:

Talk to your management teams about the selection process for crew trainers. How do they identify potential trainers? What qualities are they looking for? Or are they so desperate for trainers that they are taking anyone willing to perform that function? It is worth your time to implement a more rigorous process for identifying talent in this area and revisiting the potential incentives that trainers receive.

On-the-job training can be the type of instruction that is least regulated, especially if you work in a corporate office or support center where it becomes “out of sight, out of mind.” With a little effort and some field trips out into operations, however, the next time you’re asked if “You down with OJT?” you can of course reply, “Yeah, you know me.”

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