The Trainee’s Bill of Rights

At a New York City confab of industry luminaries convened by a restaurant dining survey company, the following question was posed to the audience: “Should restaurant customers have a ‘Service’ Bill of Rights”?………….

At a New York City confab of industry luminaries convened by a restaurant dining survey company, the following question was posed to the audience: “Should restaurant customers have a ‘Service’ Bill of Rights”? The response from the audience was an overwhelming no, since the indigenous nature of free-market foodservice is built around the hospitality-friendly Right to Eat Somewhere Else. But it got me thinking.

The greatest limitation to growth in our, or any, industry is the availability of talented leaders.

And how do we build “talent” and “leadership”? Certainly, three words that immediately come to mind are development, guidance and training. If that’s true, what happens if your training or orientation program bores or stultifies the potential future leader of your company, and they leave, before their skills blossom and their leadership emerges?

And while no one can predict the future—unless your parents own the company—each of us can bank on keeping our best and brightest along for the ride by investing in energetic, involved and interactive learning programs. And to help you and your training department keep the right perspective, allow me to present the following Modest Proposal. I call it The Trainee’s Bill of Rights. Whether it’s during the first day of orientation or at the quarterly all-employee meeting, your Team Members have…

  • The Right to Remain Silent

    Especially during Lecture-based “Training” sessions coupled with the obligatory boring Training video. Because anything you learn or fail to learn can and will be held against you.

  • The Right to have management pre-plan, design and rehearse engaging learning materials and presentations

    In other words, if your training sucks it’s not my fault.

  • Right to have the name “trainee” stricken from the workplace

    Don’t embarrass me more during Orientation with a moniker that implies temporary and expendable. Better: Learners, Team Members, Crew, New Associate. Lot Better: my name.

  • Right to be able to quickly and clearly differentiate between what is need to know and what is nice to know

    in the “training” curriculum you make me go through.

  • Right to have my company continuously share and encourage sharing their Legendary Service Stories

    so I can better understand how ordinary people did extraordinary things for Complete Strangers we call customers. A good way to kick this dialogue off is by asking current employees, “What’s one story you wish everyone in this company knew?”

  • The Right to know that I may move on if you lose my attention

    Many companies want my services. Of all the people who will never leave you you’re the only one.

  • The Right to understand that no matter how committed to learning I appear to be, two of my primary concerns is “So what?” and “Who cares?”

    Design your training program to answer those questions first and then design course content or curriculum. Then, reach out and teach some one. Be a mentor. Show me the positive sides of a career in this business.

  • The Right for management to always treat the customer as an appreciating asset:

    If someone knocked on my door tomorrow and offered to start paying my rent, my mortgage, my car payments, my utilities…I’d say “Come on in stranger!” Well, somebody does do that every day for all of us. That person is the customer. And by the way, fellas, arguing over a $25 meal with an angry customer may be short-term smart but it’s long-term stupid.

  • The Right for management to always treat me as an appreciating asset

    Lloyd Hill, president and CEO of Applebee’s International says it best, “If you give someone an $800,000 asset to manage, he or she will invest time at least monthly to keep that asset fresh. However, if you give that same manager the priceless asset of a human being to manage, he rarely will invest even annually to keep that asset fresh and energized.” What you reinforce is what you get.

  • The Right to Pay only what’s it’s worth

    What if I had to pay for your training session, but only if I was 100% satisfied at the end? How much would I pay? How much time of mine did you use productively? Time is more important than money where training is concerned. Trainers should design and deliver every training session as if you’re an ad agency trying to land a large account. And guess what? You are.

  • The Right to agree to disagree on the “Customer Is Always Right issue”

    It’s bogus, Medieval, and overly paternalistic. Yeh, I’m talkin’ to you. Cause that means that in every situation of disagreement, the employee is always wrong. And that ain’t right. Teach us to become Customer Advocates—not adversaries—instead, and not get hung up on the who’s right/who’s wrong issue.

  • The Right to Have Trainers who know the difference between information and communication

    Information is giving out but Communication is getting through.

  • Right for my company to recognize that an involved and interactive training program is a great retention tool

    If you’re bleeding people you’re bleeding value. We have less a “labor” crisis than we do a retention crisis. Despite what Wall Street may have you believe, it’s still a people business. Companies don’t build “business”, they build people. People build business. Great ongoing training is a competitive advantage and recruiting tool.

  • The Right to have my leaders recognize that school is never out for the pro

    If you want me to embrace learning, show me that you put a premium on learning (and teaching) new things, too. Teach us something new every shift. And remember that training is a daily process, not a biannual meeting on an early Saturday morning.

  • The Right to access and embrace new technology at work

    Don’t fear technology, today’s generation has it woven into their DNA. They don’t like working for “digital aliens”.

  • The Right to work for a company that’s jazzed about what they do, every day

    Passion Persuades. I want to work for the leader lighting the way with a blowtorch, not a manager holding a candle. Brighten the Workplace. I ‘m Your Future and you should damn well be excited about it.