When it comes to training, most restaurant owners tend to think that it means on-the-job training, where the trainee is an extra person on payroll, which spikes the labor percentage.
Or maybe you've called in your team on a Saturday only to tell them that you hired a leadership speaker and you notice that they would rather be anywhere but at the restaurant that they had closed just hours prior.
No matter what the situation is, as restaurant owners, you need to focus on developing your team and furthering their education without breaking the bank or focusing solely on a formal training strategies.
That is where informal training comes in and why it's an absolute necessity for your restaurant.
1. Informal Training Saves You Money & Time
The one thing that I absolutely love about informal training is that it allows your team to educate themselves outside of the restaurant. It gives them the option to grow which means you get to see who is actually investing the time to further their education.
When it comes to in-company promotions, it provides you with an easy decision to clear out the roster with only those who took the initiative to educate themselves outside of the restaurant.
It’s fair to say that the majority of the workforce expects some kind of training, but there will be those who want to grow faster than you can provide. Informal training allows you to help them grow professionally without the financial burden of sending them to seminars or trainings, especially if times are tough for the restaurant and you cannot always provide formal training.
Another key point is that informal training saves you time. Time that you can focus on solving challenges that come up without having to pause for a training session.
There’s nothing more stressful on both parties when formal training is promised on P&L’s or higher level learning only for it to get pushed aside due to a figurative “fire” that just popped up and needs your attention.
You can rest assured that your employees who want more, get more without taking the time away from your business.
2. Your Team Learns More Effectively
Another added benefit of informal learning is that your employees get to learn at their own pace and in their own way. I cannot stress enough the importance of learning styles and how everyone learns in a different way.
Some people are auditory learners and some trainers get upset when the trainees do not make eye contact with them. Truth is, the trainee is concentrating on what the trainer is saying and not what he or she is doing.
So informal training allows a stress-free environment to learn the material. And when it comes to employee retention, the restaurant would thrive.
I’ve been a trainer in full-service and fast-casual concepts. Throughout the training days, I would see people just stare at me like a deer in headlights. Whether it was due to not talking to them in their learning style or to sensory overload because of the amount of information they were expected to take in. People will hit a point where they cannot retain any more information.
Formal training needs the exercises and breaks to break down the information and allow them to soak in the learnings. Informal training lets them do it in their own time which boosts their confidence in what’s being taught as well as boosts their morale knowing the company they’re working for cares about their development as a working professional.
3. It Sparks A Conversation & Sets An Example
Learning something new excites people. It gets their mind thinking about how they can implement the new strategies into the workplace.
I remember handing over a book that I loved and helped me in my professional life to someone who was just starting out. They took it home and read it. A week later, I noticed they were implementing the strategies in what they did.
Another week went by and they were on fire. They implemented the management strategies and noticed a significant change in their approach to managing their team. It sparked a conversation with the whole team about how the restaurant can improve in terms of management and the team talked about how they can individually improve based around the strategies that were in the book.
Learning is exciting when it’s not forced onto someone. Developing people opens their eyes to more than they currently understood. You are stretching their model of the world and expanding it which is what is absolutely amazing about education.
It sparks meaningful conversation that will only improve your operations.
4. You Become A Leader Who Attracts Top Talent
When word spreads that you develop your team beyond what most restaurants do and are willing to do, you will start attracting talent that you would only dream of getting.
When you develop your team members, they buy into what you’re selling a little bit more every single time they login to learn. They understand that you cannot always sit down and walk them through everything there is to know about the business or about management but there’s a place where they can learn that.
Whether it’s outsourced through a third-party or it’s an in-house informal training platform, you will create loyalty and reduce your turnover by providing this type of training in your restaurant.
Now the question is, “How do I even get started?”
Start with a file sharing platform and section things off. Every time you see an article that’s worth sharing, upload it to the platform. Read a book that you know would benefit your management team? Put the title there. Buy it for the ones who are wanting more.
Once you have more resources available, then you can branch out into e-learning platforms.
Be the leader. Set the standard. If you set the standard of being a learning workplace, your team will eventually want to develop on a deeper level and you’ll already have material for them to do so.
By Andrew Carlson, Industry Expert