Training New Employees Guideline

The main obstacle to adding new stores is creating a system that’s reproducible.  We’re constantly trying to figure out a way to develop workflow processes and training methods that are reproducible at each location.  So we’re working on a How to Train New Hires manual. Comments, especially from managers, are welcome.

Attitude and Demeanor
Several will train new hire.  Attitude, demeanor, and approach to training must be consistent across all trainers.  Lack of consistency will make new hire confused and wondering if there are double standards.  Highest ranking trainer sets the tone and approach, which can be adjusted based on circumstances.  Tone and approach must always be customized based on personality and skill level of new hire.

New hire is not and cannot be your friend during training period  Don’t be chummy, be a bitch.  Be chummy once new hire is established part of the business.

Observe
Good trainers don’t simply tell trainees what to do.  They observe trainees at all times.  Be sure they’re operating with all of their senses.  It’s especially important to look at what their eyes are looking at, as it’ll reveal to you their court vision, how much they see.  Those who look down are out of it, looking inward, and are only able to handle one task at a time.  Those who are constantly looking up are constantly searching for something in the external world and are capable of handling multiple customers, running multiple processes.

Listen to their rhythm, the sound of work.  If the sound of something is off, if you hear hesitation or choppiness, correct it immediately before it becomes a habit.

Don’t assume trainee will do something the way you do it.  Sometimes that doesn’t matter.  Often, it does.  Observe!

Some mistakes are result of sloppiness/nervousness/unfamiliarity, others result of character.  For instance, someone who unintentionally drops bowl of mangoes is likely sloppy.  We’re generally not too concerned about sloppy mistakes unless they’re repeated over and over again (in which case it’s either a character mistake or trainee lacks adequate skills for job).  We’re more concerned about character mistakes, mistake borne of laziness, sloth, greed, meanness, narcissism, and so forth.  Watch closely for character mistakes.

Method

We give new hires 20 hours to get comfortable, familiar with surroundings.  We spend the next 20-40 hours scaring the shit out of them.  If the circumstance doesn’t make trainee stressed or uncomfortable, manufacture stress, figure out ways to make new hire uncomfortable.  We’re testing for mental toughness and ability to function under pressure.  If you don’t scare the shit out of them, some customer or circumstance will.  If they can’t handle difficult situations with grace and aplomb, they’re out.  The world doesn’t conform to anyone.  It’s the individual’s job to adapt to evolving circumstances and contexts.
Ask trainee challenging questions.  Make them figure out solutions to problems on their own.  Ask them to identify problems.  You’ll learn a lot about them quickly. Unless it’s busy, avoid telling them what to do.

Help trainee to simplify what they see so they can learn the menu quickly.  There are only a few drink items that need to be memorized.  The remaining items are variations of those.  For instance, Exercist is Veggie Juice plus Apple, or Sweet Version of Veggie Juice.  Help them recognize patterns throughout the store and menu.

Drill them on basic nutritional information (eg how many calories in 2 tbls of peanut butter).

We teach instinct, not how to follow recipes.  Don’t let them read the menu when making drinks.  There are only a few processes and facts we want them to memorize.  The rest they should be able to figure out.  Have them talk, think their way to the correct formula. If it’s busy, tell them what to put in the drink.  If you’re slammed, make it yourself.

Play-act scenarios.  Prepare them for the unexpected.  Use this to break habits, to test their knowledge, and to assess how they handle unusual requests.

We’ll continue to develop this guideline.

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