For this month’s Sunday| Mag articles, we asked some of our favorite writers this one question: What’s one thing you’ve been learning all year long that you’d like to share with Sunday| Mag’s readers? In this article, Jason Young talks about his plans for the year for training and developing the guest services team at North Point Ministries.
How do I make sure each service has consistent and great guest experiences? That’s something I’ve been wrestling with over the last year. And it’ll be my primary focus for 2015.
Think about it: Would someone who attended the 9am service this week have the same experience next Sunday if they attended the 6pm service? Probably not. Why? Each service has a unique personality, team members are different, and they are not trained and developed the same way.
I can’t do anything about the personality of the service time. But I can change how we train and develop each team member.
This year my primary focus will be to create a training and development experience for our team members. That means creating a framework that’s flexible so volunteers can have directional clarity, but also with freedom to choose the right solutions to any problems they’re faced with. We’ll be training in the areas of physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual matters.
Training and Developing
We’ll be training as well as developing our current volunteers.
My friend Jeff Jackson says it like this: Training is what we do with a first-time volunteer in our area of ministry; we acclimate them to our environment. Developing is what we do with team members who stay in our area of ministry; we build on what they already know through their initial training.
Where Training Often Fails
I’ve found training typically fails because of these things:
- Too much theory
- Poor communication
- Irrelevant and/or impractical content
- Information only
- Wrong goals in mind
- Lacking relational elements
- Lack of clear expectations
- A development journey is not outlined
To determine what resources we need to make available to our volunteer team, there are three key questions that I need to answer on behalf of my volunteers:
- What attitude will the volunteer need to show?
- What knowledge will be needed for each volunteer role?
- What physical resources do the volunteers need to do the job?
Here are four approaches that I will employ to target with more focus and tenacity. I am also including four ideas to improve each one. I find all four approaches to be important when built on each other. As such, if any one of the approaches is found in isolation, you could find yourself in an unhealthy place.
- Be clear about expectations
- Repeat frequently
- Utilize accessible communication channels to fit the rhythm of their lives (eg. Facebook, text, email)
- Create a way for them to ask questions while you tell them about the why, what, and how
- Provide real-life examples of who on my team is doing it well
- Define the skills that matter most
- Nothing is elementary because the simple elements can make or break a guest experience
- As soon as I think I have shown them enough examples, show them more because they need to hear and see everything numerous times
- Partner them up with a friendly and knowledgeable veteran team member for sufficient repetitions
- Affirm what they are doing well
- Slowly release more responsibility to them
- Check and recheck on how they are feeling and doing in their role
- Realize there are team members who can do a great job, especially if they are trained well
- Openly communicate my belief in them—it does something for both of us
- Expect that they might do it differently than me and that is okay as long as it fits in with the overall mission or system
- Stay a safe distance away from the how but close enough to still lead the why and what
Here are six personal and specific strategies I will employ to train and develop our team members so that we can deliver a consistently remarkable guest experience.
- Be ultra clear about each role and the ideal type of person in that role.
- Create an online library of short videos that are pertinent and helpful to their specific role that can be accessed with their smartphone.
- Every team member must attend an initial training experience prior to starting.
- Check in with each team member after 90 days to see how you can enhance the way that team member serves our guests.
- Regularly check in with each leader to ensure they have what they need to develop their team members well.
- Assign a staff member to help ensure each of the above strategies are executed well.
The guest deserves to receive a consistently remarkable experience regardless of which service they choose to attend. The team member deserves to receive excellent training and development in order to help them serve well.
That’s what I’m working on this year. Care to share your guest experience goals for the new year? Leave a comment below.