micro-skilling

Many businesses are using micro-skilling as a way to upskill staff in the short term and retain staff in the long term. By Frank Leggett

In the hospitality industry, micro-skilling is a training method where staff are given small, easily manageable instruction about specific tasks. This is not ‘big picture’ training about entire processes or systems. It is frequent, intensive, and short training sessions that refine knowledge and execution in regard to a very specific task or duty.

By upskilling staff quickly and efficiently, they are able to achieve goals and cement their position in the team. They quickly earn trust and there is no unnecessary micro-management of employees or their duties. 

While there is still a place for extended and more comprehensive training, micro-skilling is a cost-effective and efficient way to get staff up to speed with high performance. Micro-skilling has also been shown to improve staff retention rates.

A micro-skilled workplace

“The backbone of any restaurant experience is the order of service,” says Jeremy Courmadias, general manager at Fink. With six restaurants in their portfolio, including Quay, Bennelong and OTTO Brisbane, and with more than 400 staff, Fink is committed to the highest of levels of service. “Essentially a sequence of events happens from the moment someone makes a booking through to the time they leave the restaurant. Micro-skills training addresses each of the various steps along this journey.”

As most restaurants are time-poor, micro-skilling is an efficient way of constantly growing and upskilling the team. It has also been shown that staff retain the information and skills they are taught. 

“When training in small blocks, the overall change is incremental and so is the learning. The training becomes a routine rather than an interruption.”

Craig Fox, director, Wine & Dine ‘m

“We have actively embraced micro-skilling training,” says Craig Fox, director at Brisbane full-service caterers, Wine & Dine ‘m. Partnering with dozens of venues across Brisbane, the company covers private events, corporate events and weddings. “Engaging different teams in larger training modules while still operating at a high production level shows that not all elements are taken on by the staff. We have had much better results breaking our training down into much smaller components.”

Effective and efficient

Micro-skilling is such an effective training technique because it simplifies complicated systems. When tasks are broken down into simple, easy-to-learn steps, the information is retained and quickly put into practice.

“By focusing our teaching on the best execution of each step along the sequence, and then joining those steps together, we can achieve the high standards for which we strive,” says Courmadias. “If a staff member is struggling with a particular step in the sequence, it can be quickly identified and micro-skills training can be implemented. The advantages are many—it’s cost-effective, measurable and time-efficient. It works best when training is in small groups or one on one.”

Fox also finds micro-skilling to be an extremely effective training technique. “When training in small blocks, the overall change is incremental and so is the learning. The training becomes a routine rather than an interruption. We’ve found that micro-skilling has a better uptake in terms of recollection and implementation.”

“Micro-skilling is an effective training technique that provides training suited directly to an employee or employers’ needs.”

Andrea Poletti, head, TAFE NSW SkillsPoint Tourism and Experience Services

That’s not to say that micro-skilling is the be-all and end-all of training. It can take a longer period to implement new skill blocks.  Additionally, basic training of the overall sequence of service is still required as a base position. Micro-skilling tends to not be as effective when taught to large groups.

In the classroom

Hospitality training organisations are also adopting micro-skilling when teaching their students. It allows students to gain skill sets specifically targeted to the needs of the industry.

“Micro-skilling is an effective training technique that provides training suited directly to an employee or employers’ needs,” says Andrea Poletti, head of TAFE NSW SkillsPoint Tourism and Experience Services. “For example, if a restaurant would like to improve their employees’ management capability, TAFE NSW could deliver a short course focused specifically on the skills required for higher level management.

“TAFE NSW has a range of speciality schools including the TAFE NSW Australian Patisserie Academy, Sydney Wine Academy and Sydney Coffee Academy.”

For students, micro-skilling can be targeted to a specific skill set and be delivered at a time, pace and place an individual or employer requires. Additionally, customised micro-skilling programs can minimise time away from work and disruption to a business. 

“Micro-skilling helps staff succeed in their role, creating better job satisfaction and higher staff retention rates.” 

Jeremy Courmadias, general manager, Fink

“TAFE NSW delivery options include online, on-campus and in the workplace with the choice of full-time, part-time or block study,” says Poletti.

Retaining staff

The hospitality industry is currently facing a major skills shortage and training has been identified as one of the solutions for attracting and retaining employees. Micro-skilling can be used to upskill new entrants, equipping them with a variety of skills.

“Providing high quality, relevant and timely training builds valuable skills while engendering staff loyalty and supporting retention strategies,” says Poletti. “Micro-skilling provides a cost-effective means of upskilling staff to enhance business performance and staff satisfaction.”

Courmadias agrees: “Staff are often hungry to grow and develop. Micro-skilling helps feed this hunger without the cost and time of running larger, and longer, training sessions. Micro-skilling helps staff succeed in their role, creating better job satisfaction and higher staff retention rates.” 

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