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Training, M.D.

February 1, 2007
Originally published in the QSR Side Order Newsletter

No, not 'Training Doctor,' rather 'Training, Mobile Device'. How is your current training program presented to your employees? Print manuals? Videos? At a computer? If so, the new employee typically reads or watches a long list of items and then goes to the workstation having a ton of information jumbled in their head. At that point, the success of the training program is now up to the trainer (or the employee working next to the new one if they are just thrown into a station). Not very effective and the employee likely never uses the training materials again.

It's time to make your training mobile. Whether it's a portable DVD player, a portable video device such as an iPod or an ultra mobile PC, the training content needs to be ‘what is needed, when it's needed, where it's needed'. By allowing the employee to watch a short segment on the topic right in the workstation (or very near it) followed by immediate practice, both knowledge and SKILL are developed on a consistent basis.

Additionally, Training, M.D. can be a valuable tool for reinforcement - an area often neglected by managers and not thought of as ‘training'. Remember, training is a culture and part of a manager's job, not a program. By having the content in short segments (less than 2 minutes), managers can easily use the device to show an employee how to correctly do something they were not doing properly or show a ‘clip-a-day' at a pre-shift meeting to help breathe life into them.

How could this be applied?
• Create a guided tour on the device as part of orientation so the employees can learn about the key areas of the restaurant, evacuation routes, location and use of the fire extinguishers, cleaning chemicals, etc in a fun way. Too often, these items are skipped or glossed over during orientation.
• Have your vendors provide troubleshooting and maintenance footage to put on the device so things not done frequently can be looked at in advance of actually doing the maintenance or troubleshooting.
• Put all video content into short clips to create an effective training guide for new employees and quick reference for existing employees.

No, these devices aren't supposed to replace trainers. Rather, they become an effective tool to be used to provide consistent training. Scripted properly, the trainer must always be one step ahead of the trainee setting up the next skill exercise and practice. The result? Shortened training time and a more productive employee ready more quickly. Pal's Sudden Service (the only restaurant to win the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Service Award) shortened their training time by 33%! Well worth the investment in the M.D.