Four Effective Ways to Train Your Catering Staff

In some of my previous blogs, I touched upon the growing need for training in the catering industry. We also looked at certain skillsets and processes that catering managers need to be groomed and trained on. With millennials and Gen Z forming a huge chunk of the catering industry’s employee-base and the high turnover rate that is generally prevalent here, training has never been more relevant. This makes a good case to look at some of the most efficient ways to train your catering staff and enable them to provide outstanding guest experience.

  1. Micro-Learning

Micro-learning is now a pervasive trend, in almost all walks of our digital life. It goes without saying that it is an effective method to train your catering staff as well. Micro-learning is on-demand, delivered at the point-of-need, and highly relevant because the employee is concentering on one skill/learning objective at a time rather than worrying about the entire curriculum.  For example – Instead of a long course on how to serve food to the customer, your staff will enjoy consuming small micro-learning nuggets on how to set up the table or how to serve wine when they need to learn about them.

  1. Scenario-Based Learning

Use of scenarios based on real-life situations is a very useful training mechanism. Scenarios can help learners to understand the best way to handle a situation. Training can be made more interactive by the use of branching scenarios where there could be different results to a situation based on the learner’s response.  Scenario-based training is the ideal mechanism to train staff on soft skills. For example, a scenario on how to handle an irate customer or how to greet a customer can enable employees to be prepared with the relevant skills when the real-life instance occurs.

  1. Game-Based Learning

Use of game elements in learning enhances the learning experience, makes it fun, and also gives the learner a sense of challenge and achievement.  Leaderboards, time-based quizzes, time-driven missions are some of the common mechanisms used in game-based learning.  For example, a time-bound, game-based module that requires the learners to finish setting up 10 tables flawlessly, and get on the leaderboard, can be a great way to train your employees on relevant skills.

  1. Learning Reinforcement

Catering staff deals with customers on a regular basis and it is important to find ways to reinforce the training. Tools like learning enforcement apps, flash-cards, interim knowledge checks, and standup meetings are an effective method to reinforce training.

These different training modalities are an effective way to train your staff members and keep them motivated.  I would be keen to know of any other approaches that you use to ensure your staff is trained well. Share your comments below or drop a note to info@harbingerlearning.com

Presenting Boring Content…

We often talk about “making” a course interactive or engaging, but how can we approach content that is not engaging in itself? “Converting” flat and uninspired page-turners into something that actually engages and retains the learner’s interest is not as easy as it seems, and we learned this the hard way. This would be best demonstrated by explaining how we worked on one of our courses.

The job seemed simple enough when it first came to us – a course explaining company policies. A drab page-turner made in Powerpoint, the content was capable of putting even the Instructional Designers to sleep! The content was vital and important information, to be sure, but if it failed to interest the teacher, how would it ever engage the learner?

The content that came already used some interactivities created in Articulate Engage, and was published using Presenter. But those interactivities were as engaging as pressing a “Next” button that appeared in different places on the screen. Let’s face it – Tabs and Process interactivities are still page-turners of sorts. Do we add more of these interactivities? Maybe turn some of the content into interactive diagrams or a “click-and-reveal”? That would only serve to reduce the number of screens in the course, not make it any more interesting than it was. The solution had to be much more radical.

We were eager to try out some branching scenarios, but the scenarios given didn’t leave room for much engagement, and neither did the final seat-time of the course permit us to use some creative stories or building up and elaborate atmosphere. Using Articulate Storyline, we managed to hit on a solution that gave a most beautifully interactive way of navigating through the course. Since we couldn’t use branching scenarios with what we were given, we decided to turn the entire course into one big scenario!

We used a scenario where it’s the learner’s first day at the company (which it very well might have been in real life), and they are being given a tour of the office. This allowed us to place each module in a separate virtual location, each one in a different “room” in the office. Just like an office, the learner is free to move between the various rooms, creating a non-linear navigation for the course.

We often use mentors or guides to better engage the learner, but with the scenario of several rooms, we managed to get closer to creating the office environment – we had no less than 5 different mentors in our course! Each mentor guided the learner through a different set of rooms, creating an effect of that person having expertise in that area, just like a real office!

The content itself was presented as a visual treat. The various “rooms” allowed to us have different backgrounds for each module, and have the content appear in styles that was similar to what you would find in that “room”. We created “click-and-reveal” interactivities on non-Engage screens, with various visual effects, giving some more interactive opportunities for the learner.

Where the original course was interactive with “sit-and-stare” Powerpoint screens in between, the new course tied them together into a beautiful bundle that was engaging and interactive even on non-Engage screens.

The crowning glory of this whole project – it was done in less than a month!

Interested to learn more? Write to info@harbingerknowledge.com.