5 Strategies for Training Your Restaurant Team

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Training is no easy task. People enter the restaurant business for many reasons, but teaching other people how to use a new POS or ordering system is not usually high on that list. A good training strategy can make this part of a restaurateur’s job easier.

Things you already know

You know your team. You know how you work together. You know their strengths and struggles. You know your business and its schedule. You are already an expert on your team and your store.

You also know what good training looks like. You had at least a few good teachers in school that you really liked. You have watched a few YouTube videos that actually taught you something new. Maybe you have had a mentor who showed you the ropes when you entered the restaurant business. Your goal as a trainer is to act like those people. You will not be perfect, and that is ok. Just do the best you can.

All you have to do now is choose a strategy that will work well with what you already know.

Choose the strategy that is the best match for you, your store, and your team.

One-on-One

The manager sits down with each team member individually. They review the training materials and have a back-and-forth discussion about the topic. This discussion is guided by the manager. Any hands-on experience is also supervised by the manager.

  • Locations that use this strategy tend to be small with a low headcount. Alternatively, they may be onboarding a small number of new employees.
  • Managers who use this strategy have a strong, personal connection with each and every employee.
  • The main strength of this strategy is evaluation. It is easy to ask and answer questions in both directions.
  • The main challenge of this strategy is time. Working individually with each employee is a slow process. Be sure you schedule enough time to train everyone.

Whole Group

The manager gets the whole team together. This can happen before the store opens or after closing. Using larger format training materials, like a PowerPoint deck or poster paper, the manager can present new ideas. Ideally, this looks like a mix between a traditional classroom and a really engaging motivational speaker.

  • Locations that use this strategy tend to be medium-sized or slightly larger. They are used to meeting as a full team, like in a morning huddle.
  • Managers who use this strategy are comfortable presenting to a large group. They are experienced with speaking to their entire team in an engaging way.
  • The main strength of this strategy is speed. Your entire operation can be trained in a new system or process overnight.
  • The main challenge of this strategy is engagement. It can be challenging for your team to stay focused, and they may not clearly communicate when they need help.

Small Group

The manager pulls half of each shift during a slow period. The entire group can fit around a table or two. They sit close enough that they can all speak at a normal voice and be heard. The manager talks much like they would when talking to one person. They constantly monitor the group and look for signs of confusion, even when the employees are not asking questions. The manager encourages the group to first turn to each other when they have questions.

  • Locations that use this strategy tend to be medium-sized or larger with predictable slow periods during the day.
  • Managers who use this strategy are comfortable presenting with the possibility of distractions.
  • The main strength of this strategy is team members who learn together supporting each other.
  • The main challenge of this strategy is scheduling. It can be difficult to rotate everyone through the correct shifts so they can participate in a training session.

Train-the-Trainer

The manager has a cadre of team members that they can rely on. They learn new material quickly, and they are respected by the other team members. The manager works with this small group using the Small Group strategy explained above. Once these team members are well versed in the new system, they become team trainers, and they each train a portion of the entire team using one of the other training strategies. These team trainers should be encouraged to rely on each other, as well as the manager, for support. This is a great way to give team members a new one-time responsibility and evaluate if they might be ready for more responsibility on a daily basis.

  • Locations that use this strategy tend to be very large with several team members ready to take on a new challenge.
  • Managers who use this strategy are comfortable with delegation.
  • The main strength of this strategy is the creation of more experts in the new process or system besides the manage.
  • The main challenge of this strategy is preparation. Team trainers must receive more intensive training, and they must practice their training skills before training others.

On-the-fly

The manager does not train their team. They might leave a cheat sheet by the registers or a training manual in the break room. They expect their team to figure it out on their own. Some managers who use this strategy are hard workers who have enormous faith in their team. Others cannot be bothered to try something new. No matter the reason, much of the team will not be ready for the upcoming change. They are likely to feel poorly prepared and may resent that fact.

  • Locations that use this strategy may not realize the importance of training.
  • Managers who use this strategy should consider the risks of ignoring training.
  • The main strength of this strategy is nothing. There are no advantages to throwing your team to the wolves. Do not do this.
  • The main challenge of this strategy is that employees are going to be very ill-prepared.

As you can see, there are many approaches you can take to training. Essentially, the more you prepare the better. To stay ahead of tips like this, be sure to subscribe to the blog below:

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Matt Brenner

Matt Brenner

Matt Brenner is the Training Manager at LevelUp. Before Matt joined the corporate world, he was a high school science teacher. A country boy at heart, he commutes from a house far enough from the city that bears, deer, and turkeys frequent his back yard. When he is not training LevelUp's clients on their custom apps, he enjoys cooking elaborate meals for his family. Thankfully, his boys have healthy appetites.

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