Comments are closed. TheTD2000 judges had enormous difficulty in picking the winner of the Award.Patrick McCurry looks at the impressive work of the runners upBothBarclay’s Bank Small Business Banking and TGI Friday’s – the runners up in theTD2000 Award – showed an impressive commitment to training and had put in placemajor programmes that were linked to the companies’ business strategies.Atrestaurant chain TGI Friday’s an element of fun is injected into the trainingof its predominantly young workforce. But the overall strategy is serious – toenable the company to grow and maintain its leadership position in the UK’supmarket American-style restaurant market.ForBarclays’ Small Business Banking the challenge has been to transform itsbranch-based small business managers into proactive winners of new customers bytraining them in sourcing new business, cold calling and improved customer service.OnTGI Fridays’ approach, co-judge Nigel Crouch says, “We found a tremendousenergy among staff, from the managing director to table and back-of-houseemployees, and a lot of that is down to the training.”Headds that he was particularly impressed by the training of restaurant staff incustomer service and how to respond to different categories of customer. Thecompany’s innovative programme includes an invented board game in which staffare put in teams and asked questions on menus and customer care. Chocolate barsare awarded to the winning team.Crouch’sjudging colleague Paul Kearns agrees. “In a very competitive business, TGIFridays’ customer care training has obviously helped them enormously in theirsuccess.”OnBarclays, Crouch stresses the significant culture change that the trainingdepartment is pushing through. “It is always very difficult changing acompany’s culture but the Barclays’ trainers seem to have been very successfulin giving people the tools and the confidence to change behaviour.”EffectiveevaluationBothcompanies have made significant efforts to introduce effective evaluation oftraining and use the Kirpatrick model. Butevaluation, particularly measuring the impact of training on the bottom line,is still seen as a tricky area to pin down.“Youfind there are always lots of other factors, ranging from the general economyto new products and re-organisations, that make it very difficult to quantifytraining’s contribution,” says Alastair Camp, managing director of BarclaysSmall Business Banking.Barclaysand TGI Friday’s had significantly different challenges that their training hadto meet.TGIFriday’s was founded in the US in 1965 the company opened its first restaurantin the UK in 1985 and now has 41 units employing 4,000 “team members” and 250managers. Wholly owned in the UK by Whitbread, Friday’s continues to expand andhas opened nine outlets in the last nine months.“Alot of our imitators have either failed in the UK or are stagnant and we putdown a huge part of our success to our training,” says training manager JaneBriggs-Birkitt.Theattitude to training is to make it as interesting and fun as possible, saysmanaging director Neil Riding. “In the past, young people would have feltobliged to stay in a job for a couple of years but today there’s no socialstigma attached to walking out if you don’t enjoy it.”Thecommitment to training and development stretches from the restaurant floor tothe boardroom, he says, noting that all senior management spend a couple ofspells each year waiting tables so as to keep in touch with the coalface.Friday’sis keen to involve staff as far as possible in training, says Briggs-Birkitt.For example, it was a group of the company’s “master bartenders” that puttogether a training video on the making of cocktails.HighstandardsThereare also regular competitions to encourage high standards, such as bartender ofthe year and back-of-house team of the year.Ayear ago Friday’s introduced training co-ordinators into all its restaurants,with a brief to train in-store trainers and to handle the induction andon-going training of team members.“Thetraining co-ordinator role was brought in to reduce the risk that trainingwould be battling for attention from the general manager,” says Riding.Themove was also partly triggered by a desire to reduce staff turnover which,although down by 10 per cent in the past year, is still too high, he says.MarkJones, general manager at the newly opened Northampton outlet, says, “Our trainingco-ordinator attends management meetings every week so she understands thebusiness issues and if I have a particular problem, say food quality, I cantalk to her about a training solution.”Theinduction process for new team members is handled by the training co-ordinatorand involves three days’ off-the-job training, which can involve games and roleplay, backed up by homework and testing. Then new staff spend three daysworking with colleagues and then “go solo” in the restaurant for two weeks. Atthe end of that period they are assessed by the training co-ordinator and maybe awarded certification.MotivationNewstaff know they can move up the organisation quickly if they have themotivation and a supervisory role of shift manager is possible within three tosix months.Formanagers a new fast-track programme has been developed, a two-week off-siteprogramme which replaces the previous modular two-year scheme.Briggs-Birkittsays the old scheme was taking too long for such a fast-growing business andwas also expensive at £3,500, partly because of the high travel costs to attendmodules.Thenew programme costs £1,400 per delegate and involves a week spent at Fridays’Northampton offices followed by a week in mid-Wales, including outdoor challenges,for team building and communications exercises. There are now plans toincorporate some of the programme on Whitbread’s intranet.NickArmitage, director of training for Whitbread’s restaurant division, says otherWhitbread brands have learned from Fridays’ approach to training.“Iwas with a group of people from the Costa café chain recently and we felt therewas a lot we could learn from TGI Friday’s training, such as launching internalcompetitions like bartender of the year.”Butit is not all about contests and games, says Briggs-Birkitt, noting that thecompany takes training evaluation seriously. Itfollows the Kirkpatrick model of four levels of evaluation, beginning withdelegate reaction to training, followed by whether the original learning aimswere met, how it changed behaviour in the workplace and the impact on thebusiness.CourseevaluationAtlevel one, staff who have undergone training fill out course evaluation formsand comments are constantly sought, for example from team members on amanager’s return to the restaurant after a course.Forlevel two there are regular reviews by trainers to ensure objectives are beingmet, course contents are referred to when appraisals are carried out andquizzes are used to assess how effective the learning experience has been.Assessingchanged behaviour in the workplace is achieved by a variety of methods,including pre- and post-course reviews, observation of the trainee and feedbackfrom peers and department heads.Whenit comes to the impact on the business, one of the main objectives of thetraining is to reduce staff turnover as this has a positive impact on otherareas, such as customer complaints.Whileit is difficult to isolate training’s role, there has been a drop in teammember turnover since initiatives such as training co-ordinators wereintroduced a year ago.Barclays’Small Business Banking, based at Westwood Business Park, Coventry, also takesevaluation seriously and uses the Kirkpatrick model. Butquantifying the business impact of training is by no means an exact science,says managing director Alastair Camp.“Wehave ambitious targets to win business from our competitors this year and sofar we are on course and you can infer that our training programme hassomething to do with it, but it is hard to quantify.”Itis clear, however, that the £2m “Developing the Relationship” programme hasplayed a big part in turning often reactive small business banking managersinto more effective and proactive income generators.Themove was partly triggered by the declining use of branches by small businesses.In the past managers would wait until small business customers contacted thebank but in today’s competitive environment bank managers must take theinitiative.Morethan 2,000 staff have been trained over the last two years, says head of smallbusiness training Peter Hurst. “Ithas all been about encouraging staff to pick up the phone and research leadsfor new business, either from existing customers or from our rivals.”RolesredefinedRoleshad been redefined so that there was less paperwork but many of the bankerswere not used to cold calling for business and felt intimidated, says trainingmanager Debbie Stone.“Becausepeople were apprehensive about using the phone to win new business we decidedto try and make the training as fun as possible, while getting some seriouspoints across.”Thetraining team developed the concept of a train journey and the four days of thecourse were presented as four “carriages” – identifying new business, winningit from both start-ups and rival banks, retaining it and growing the customerbase.“Peoplereally latched on to the train theme and we even had our own theme, the O’Jays’song Love Train,” says Stone.Thecourse was developed with the help of an outside consultant, specialising intelephone training.“Theyalso wanted to deliver it and said we wouldn’t be able to but we were keen forour trainers to do it so in the early days we worked together and then therewas a handover to our trainers,” says Hurst.RapidrapportThecourse covered a variety of phone techniques, such as how to build a rapidrapport with potential customers, as well as training in time management sothat bankers would be able to effectively research and plan their strategies.Dummyphone calls by delegates were assessed and phone manner analysed so that, bythe final afternoon, bankers were able to make genuine calls.“Manywere amazed that they were able to do it and by the range of new leads theycould generate from a few targeted calls,” says Stone.Akey decision, says Hurst, was to ensure that regional teams attended the coursewithin a three-month time frame. “Whatwe didn’t want was people attending piecemeal so that someone got back to theoffice fired up but his colleagues didn’t know what he was talking about.”Evaluationtechniques have shown surprisingly high feedback, says Hurst. For example, backat the workplace 96 per cent of team leaders said the number of accounts wonfrom rival banks had increased following the course, while 89 per cent saidthere had been an increase in the level of customer deposits.“Ourincome runs into hundreds of millions of pounds and this year it’s up 10 percent,” says Alastair Camp. “Whilewe never attached a hard financial figure to the return we expected from thetraining, if it wasn’t worth £10m over two or three years we would bedisappointed.” Previous Article Next Article By a noseOn 1 Jul 2000 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.