This article about the recent McKinsey survey demonstrates the misalignment of fostering company strengths and execution of company training programs. They explored companies’ capabilities most critical to business performance and how they create and manage training programs that support them.
Interestingly, 29% of respondents said their companies had not changed their training budgets despite the financial crisis. 11% said they had actually increased them. Additionally, it was noted that the capabilities they focus training on are not primarily due to gaining competitive advantage. Respondents said that the primary reason they foster certain capabilities are that they are fundamental parts of their core culture, followed by the reasons of customer demand and global trends.
Despite the strength in training budgets, 33% of respondents said that the programs do not focus on their most important capability. 60% of respondents rely solely or mainly on ‘on the job training’. Those that feel they are better at training on core capabilities also utilize standard operating procedures, metrics tracking, target setting and other tools.
Companies also have trouble measuring the impact of training on performance and returns 50% of respondents said they tracked direct feedback but less than 30% used any other type of metric. Due to the lack of feedback on the impact of training, focus areas can be misaligned, focusing on executives instead of the front line team with direct access to guests.
In hospitality, such misalignment can be detrimental to business performance. Without solid training programs, inconsistencies and guest complaints are sure to follow.
While some companies have very robust training models, many require training just for the ‘sake of training’. They do not focus on what would truly benefit each individual team member and therefore training programs have very little take-away value. Perhaps for this reason, it was not surprising to hear of the lack of tracking for program results.
So what should hospitality companies do? Start with the basics if they are not in place already. Establish operating procedures, standards of service and goals; then build training programs around them. And, just as important, is the measurement. If you cannot tell how the training is reflecting on the guest experience, then it is a waste. Tracking guest feedback, both positive and negative, and building additional training on the findings, is the best way to improve quality on an ongoing basis.