Just Say No to Boring Training!
by Martin R. Baird

Just Say No to Boring Training!
By Martin R. Baird

We’ve all heard about the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign. I want to start a campaign and apply the same slogan to casino training.
No, I’m not saying we should put an end to training. To the contrary, I think casinos need to have more training so their employees are comfortable and have the skills they need to make the guest experience spectacular. What I want to eradicate in my lifetime is boring training. I want all facilitators, trainers and people who hire training companies to slam their collective foot down and put an end to snoozing through programs.
Just say no to boring training!
We do training programs across the country and I’m always shocked at the number of people who tell me our program isn’t boring. I’m appalled to learn that casinos are doing training that’s so mind numbing. You are in the excitement and entertainment business and if your training isn’t exciting and entertaining, what message are you sending to your people? You might as well plaster signs all over the training room that say gaming is a dull business.
I can hear some of you grumbling: “Sure, that’s easy when it’s customer service training. But what about training that deals with rules and regulations? That can’t be fun!”
Wrong. It can and must be fun. Yes, casinos have more rules and regulations than any business should have. But if all your training does is focus on the rules, then it is bound to be boring.
The subject isn’t what makes training fun. It’s the way the material is presented and the thought that goes into developing and planning the program. If the training is well designed, it will get the participants so involved that they will actually want to learn and open their minds to new opportunities.
In this industry, training should be glitz and glamour, fun and excitement because that’s what you sell to the public every day. Your training should mirror the experience that you want your employees to pass along to your guests.
Speaking of mirrors, I want to digress for a moment and apply my theory to
new-employee orientation. I wish some of you could sit behind a one-way mirror and see how boring orientation can be. It’s a full day of medieval torture. The program starts with the rules. Then the presenters talk about all the ways casino employees can get fired. At the end of the day, they may try to squeeze in a couple of minutes about how the staff should have fun at work. It’s frightening that you expect people to smile and be friendly when all they can think about is the 50 ways they could get terminated in the next 10 minutes.
Back to training. It needs to be participant centered. That means the program should be about the participants, not the trainer or the training department. It should focus on the people who are there to learn new skills. People learn by doing. Great training uses activities and exercises to keep the participants interested and active.
The program should be timed and choreographed so that there is a change or new activity every seven or eight minutes. You want the people in the training session to learn and that’s hard to do when they’re so bored they’re counting the holes in the ceiling tiles.
Develop a series of games or activities that encourages or requires the participants to say and do the new behavior. Take a current trend and blend it into the training. If “Survivor” is the current hit on TV, use that reality-based show as a theme for a portion of the session. Most people know the premise behind the show and they will be interested. Lately, when someone answered a question incorrectly, I’ve heard participants say, “You are the weakest link! Goodbye!” Use the excitement these shows have generated as a way to add spice to your training experience. This technique keeps your training fresh and new.
I recommend that casinos hire training companies and in-house staff trainers the same way they hire an act to entertain their customers. Have open auditions. Good facilitators can take a roomful of people through a variety of exercises and emotions that foster learning. They don’t need to be the next Jerry Seinfeld, but they must be able to work a room. A good facilitator can “touch” people at different levels so they want to be involved.
So please, before you schedule your next round of training, make sure it’s fun and interesting. If it’s boring, you’re wasting your time and money and losing credibility with your employees. If you value them and the talent they bring to their jobs, give them the opportunity to learn something new, something that they can use to improve your property.

Don’t say no to training. Say no to boring training that won’t do you or the attendees any good.

This article first appeared in the March 2002 issue of Native American Casino.

Date Posted: 31-Mar-2002

Martin R. Baird is president of Robinson & Associates, Inc., a customer service consulting firm based in Phoenix, Ariz., that provides specialty customer service training, management skills training, presentation skills training, team building programs and employee incentive and recognition programs for casinos. Baird has a Web site, www.casinocustomerservice.com, that’s devoted to helping casinos improve their customer service so they can compete and increase revenues. Robinson & Associates may be reached at 480-991-6421. The company is an associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association.

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