By a nose

TD2000 judges had enormous difficulty in picking the winner of the Award.
Patrick McCurry looks at the impressive work of the runners up

Barclay’s Bank Small Business Banking and TGI Friday’s – the runners up in the
TD2000 Award – showed an impressive commitment to training and had put in place
major programmes that were linked to the companies’ business strategies.

restaurant chain TGI Friday’s an element of fun is injected into the training
of its predominantly young workforce. But the overall strategy is serious – to
enable the company to grow and maintain its leadership position in the UK’s
upmarket American-style restaurant market.

Barclays’ Small Business Banking the challenge has been to transform its
branch-based small business managers into proactive winners of new customers by
training them in sourcing new business, cold calling and improved customer service.

TGI Fridays’ approach, co-judge Nigel Crouch says, “We found a tremendous
energy among staff, from the managing director to table and back-of-house
employees, and a lot of that is down to the training.”

adds that he was particularly impressed by the training of restaurant staff in
customer service and how to respond to different categories of customer. The
company’s innovative programme includes an invented board game in which staff
are put in teams and asked questions on menus and customer care. Chocolate bars
are awarded to the winning team.

judging colleague Paul Kearns agrees. “In a very competitive business, TGI
Fridays’ customer care training has obviously helped them enormously in their

Barclays, Crouch stresses the significant culture change that the training
department is pushing through. “It is always very difficult changing a
company’s culture but the Barclays’ trainers seem to have been very successful
in giving people the tools and the confidence to change behaviour.”


companies have made significant efforts to introduce effective evaluation of
training and use the Kirpatrick model.

evaluation, particularly measuring the impact of training on the bottom line,
is still seen as a tricky area to pin down.

find there are always lots of other factors, ranging from the general economy
to new products and re-organisations, that make it very difficult to quantify
training’s contribution,” says Alastair Camp, managing director of Barclays
Small Business Banking.

and TGI Friday’s had significantly different challenges that their training had
to meet.

Friday’s was founded in the US in 1965 the company opened its first restaurant
in the UK in 1985 and now has 41 units employing 4,000 “team members” and 250
managers. Wholly owned in the UK by Whitbread, Friday’s continues to expand and
has opened nine outlets in the last nine months.

lot of our imitators have either failed in the UK or are stagnant and we put
down a huge part of our success to our training,” says training manager Jane

attitude to training is to make it as interesting and fun as possible, says
managing director Neil Riding. “In the past, young people would have felt
obliged to stay in a job for a couple of years but today there’s no social
stigma attached to walking out if you don’t enjoy it.”

commitment to training and development stretches from the restaurant floor to
the boardroom, he says, noting that all senior management spend a couple of
spells each year waiting tables so as to keep in touch with the coalface.

is 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 put
together a training video on the making of cocktails.


are also regular competitions to encourage high standards, such as bartender of
the year and back-of-house team of the year.

year ago Friday’s introduced training co-ordinators into all its restaurants,
with a brief to train in-store trainers and to handle the induction and
on-going training of team members.

training co-ordinator role was brought in to reduce the risk that training
would be battling for attention from the general manager,” says Riding.

move 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.

Jones, general manager at the newly opened Northampton outlet, says, “Our training
co-ordinator attends management meetings every week so she understands the
business issues and if I have a particular problem, say food quality, I can
talk to her about a training solution.”

induction process for new team members is handled by the training co-ordinator
and involves three days’ off-the-job training, which can involve games and role
play, backed up by homework and testing. Then new staff spend three days
working with colleagues and then “go solo” in the restaurant for two weeks. At
the end of that period they are assessed by the training co-ordinator and may
be awarded certification.


staff know they can move up the organisation quickly if they have the
motivation and a supervisory role of shift manager is possible within three to
six months.

managers a new fast-track programme has been developed, a two-week off-site
programme which replaces the previous modular two-year scheme.

says the old scheme was taking too long for such a fast-growing business and
was also expensive at £3,500, partly because of the high travel costs to attend

new 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 to
incorporate some of the programme on Whitbread’s intranet.

Armitage, director of training for Whitbread’s restaurant division, says other
Whitbread brands have learned from Fridays’ approach to training.

was with a group of people from the Costa café chain recently and we felt there
was a lot we could learn from TGI Friday’s training, such as launching internal
competitions like bartender of the year.”

it is not all about contests and games, says Briggs-Birkitt, noting that the
company takes training evaluation seriously.

follows the Kirkpatrick model of four levels of evaluation, beginning with
delegate reaction to training, followed by whether the original learning aims
were met, how it changed behaviour in the workplace and the impact on the


level one, staff who have undergone training fill out course evaluation forms
and comments are constantly sought, for example from team members on a
manager’s return to the restaurant after a course.

level two there are regular reviews by trainers to ensure objectives are being
met, course contents are referred to when appraisals are carried out and
quizzes are used to assess how effective the learning experience has been.

changed behaviour in the workplace is achieved by a variety of methods,
including pre- and post-course reviews, observation of the trainee and feedback
from peers and department heads.

it comes to the impact on the business, one of the main objectives of the
training is to reduce staff turnover as this has a positive impact on other
areas, such as customer complaints.

it is difficult to isolate training’s role, there has been a drop in team
member turnover since initiatives such as training co-ordinators were
introduced a year ago.

Small Business Banking, based at Westwood Business Park, Coventry, also takes
evaluation seriously and uses the Kirkpatrick model.

quantifying the business impact of training is by no means an exact science,
says managing director Alastair Camp.

have ambitious targets to win business from our competitors this year and so
far we are on course and you can infer that our training programme has
something to do with it, but it is hard to quantify.”

is clear, however, that the £2m “Developing the Relationship” programme has
played a big part in turning often reactive small business banking managers
into more effective and proactive income generators.

move was partly triggered by the declining use of branches by small businesses.
In the past managers would wait until small business customers contacted the
bank but in today’s competitive environment bank managers must take the

than 2,000 staff have been trained over the last two years, says head of small
business training Peter Hurst.

has all been about encouraging staff to pick up the phone and research leads
for new business, either from existing customers or from our rivals.”


had been redefined so that there was less paperwork but many of the bankers
were not used to cold calling for business and felt intimidated, says training
manager Debbie Stone.

people were apprehensive about using the phone to win new business we decided
to try and make the training as fun as possible, while getting some serious
points across.”

training team developed the concept of a train journey and the four days of the
course were presented as four “carriages” – identifying new business, winning
it from both start-ups and rival banks, retaining it and growing the customer

really latched on to the train theme and we even had our own theme, the O’Jays’
song Love Train,” says Stone.

course was developed with the help of an outside consultant, specialising in
telephone training.

also wanted to deliver it and said we wouldn’t be able to but we were keen for
our trainers to do it so in the early days we worked together and then there
was a handover to our trainers,” says Hurst.


course covered a variety of phone techniques, such as how to build a rapid
rapport with potential customers, as well as training in time management so
that bankers would be able to effectively research and plan their strategies.

phone calls by delegates were assessed and phone manner analysed so that, by
the final afternoon, bankers were able to make genuine calls.

were amazed that they were able to do it and by the range of new leads they
could generate from a few targeted calls,” says Stone.

key decision, says Hurst, was to ensure that regional teams attended the course
within a three-month time frame.

we didn’t want was people attending piecemeal so that someone got back to the
office fired up but his colleagues didn’t know what he was talking about.”

techniques have shown surprisingly high feedback, says Hurst. For example, back
at the workplace 96 per cent of team leaders said the number of accounts won
from rival banks had increased following the course, while 89 per cent said
there had been an increase in the level of customer deposits.

income runs into hundreds of millions of pounds and this year it’s up 10 per
cent,” says Alastair Camp.

we never attached a hard financial figure to the return we expected from the
training, if it wasn’t worth £10m over two or three years we would be

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