ihmrs, International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show, November 8-11, 2014 Jacob K. Javits Center, NYC

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Orientation vs. Training: Orientation – More Important Than You Might Think

Orientation vs. Training: Orientation – More Important Than You Might Think
May 02, 2014

By Bruce Craul, COO, Legendary Resorts

After forty three years in this business, it just blows me away that some number that I suspect is well over fifty percent of the hotel and restaurant operators out there do not have an orientation program beyond a few sentences that include where to punch in and where to park.  Really? 

Then in a week or two the ownership and or management asks: “What did I do wrong?” when they have employees that come in late, no call no show, come in without having shaved first, or finish getting dressed in the Dining Room or Hotel Lobby bathroom.  Time to ask, does this involve deficiency of knowledge or deficiency of execution? 

I learned “back in the day” that Disney had a six or eight hour orientation for all new hires, depending on what year you asked someone that worked for them.  For good reason I am sure, as I suspect that they learned more than where to pick up their check or did they get an employee meal or not.  Everyone would be more successful if you believe that what starts right has a good chance of staying right. 

After all of these years, even as a Chief Operating Officer, I still lead an orientation that lasts four hours, including lunch for all new hires.  Where else are they going to learn all of the little stuff as mentioned above, but more importantly, things like:  What is our Mission Statement? What are our Core Values? What is the ten foot rule? What is our company history? Who are the company’s managers and executives? Who do you talk to when you have a great idea?  What separates us from our competition?  How do I move up? Do we have a 401 K program or health insurance? These are all topics that can be covered in a good orientation program.

I used to delegate this responsibility and then one day a retired Colonel that we hired came to me after he attended one of my led orientations.  He said; “your orientation is a lot different than the one that I attended when I was hired.”  He told me that in the United States Air Force when you move from wing command to a new wing command, that the Wing Commander gives the orientation because there is no one better equipped to do so.  He said; “everyone needs to attend your orientation.”  That was years ago and I have not delegated one since.  He is right. 

You have to commit to having a formal orientation and not just include that as part of the training. Then, you have to be the person that stands up in front of every new employee or better yet participation with the new hires through exercises designed to get the points across.   It is easy to say that you are too busy, or that you have someone else that can do it.  If you have someone working for you that is as passionate about your business as you, maybe, just maybe they will be as successful as you would be if you do it.  Personally I doubt it.  Orientation is some of the most important time that you can invest in new employees and it will save you twice as much time later on. 

By the way, orientation and training are two different animals. My training commentary will probably require a few more words. 


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