By Joe Lipham, Training Account Manager, Signature Worldwide
One morning while working in my former position as a human resource director for a resort, I was finishing my daily coffee run when my front-office manager, Kate, approached me. She was relatively new in her position and usually was full of ideas and had lots of energy—she was ready to make her mark on the organization! Unfortunately, I could see on this occasion that she was looking a little down.
Kate wanted to know about the last exit interview I had conducted for her desk clerk who had left two days earlier. Her front-desk clerk informed me that she liked her manager and liked the job, but she felt like she did not “fit in” and that our training did not prepare her for the job.
We discussed the situation and I asked Kate about the procedure for preparing the desk clerk for her new job. “First, I had the new employee attend New Hire Orientation before she started her assigned responsibilities. Next, I introduced her to our current personnel, and I took her on a tour to familiarize her with the property. Finally, I handed her over to Suzie, our trainer for the front-desk position,” she replied.
I knew Suzie all too well. Suzie was an “old hand” at the front desk. She looked at the desk as her domain and liked everything to go her way. She knew exactly how to handle each task at the desk very well, but she was unapproachable and opinionated on most all subjects pertaining to the resort. Although Suzie knew her position thoroughly, she was not exactly a model for the attitude and behaviors I wanted to pass along to new staff members.
I asked Kate if in her role as front-desk manager she was providing her new employees with a trainer or a mentor. She paused and thought about my question: Under Suzie’s training, would the new employees make each guest encounter a legendary one?
Throughout my career, I have learned that implementing a mentorship program may be one of the most critical decisions you can make. In selecting a mentor to train your new employees, look for someone who:
A mentor should be the person the new trainee can go to with questions and/or problems, without fear of feeling less than adequate. Mentorship involves patience and detail, so a trainee feels comfort in learning new job responsibilities.
The mentor also should have open communication with the new hire’s manager, to share any problems or concerns about the new employee. Although the manager may have a “hands-off” approach in the training, he or she should be checking in on a daily/weekly basis. By keeping in close communication with the mentor, the manager will be able to feel a certain ease in discussing any challenges the new employee or mentor may face. If handled properly, a special bond between the mentor and the new employee will bring an incredible benefit to both parties and to the business.
So, back to the discussion I had with my front-office manager, Kate. We determined Suzie was not the right person to train the new desk clerks. Suzie even revealed to us that she did not like training the new people and felt it was a burden. She was happy to let someone else take on that responsibility. A mentor handled all future new employee trainings, which made a world of difference for our onboarding process. Both Kate and I were glad we had taken the time to assess the impact of training and mentorship for the front-desk clerks at the resort.
Do you have a trainer or a mentor in your department? Do you properly mentor the new employee for their role, or just train them for their everyday tasks? Are you doing your best to ensure that the value of providing legendary customer service is as important as the tasks associated with the position?
Joe Lipham is a training account manager for Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, OH-based company, offering sales and customer service training, marketing, and mystery shopping services for a variety of service-based industries. For additional information, call 800.398.0518 or visit www.signatureworldwide.com. You also can connect with Signature Worldwide on Twitter @SignatureWorld and on Facebook.