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The Modern Butlers’ Journal, June 2018, Staff Training

Staff Training

by Frank Mitchell

Adult Learning and Motivation

Adults want to be able to apply learning to real-life situations. It should save time, make their job easier or improve service. Otherwise they are likely to simply revert to old habits.

‘Wanting to know’ and being ‘eager to learn’ is the best attitude, but experienced managers will accept that it is not always present. The threat of discipline is a poor substitute. Newly appointed household managers must also take great care not to be overbearing or condescending when training long-serving staff members, particularly if they are younger than their direct reports. ‘Because I say so’ is ineffective and weakens your credibility.

Instead, explain the importance and benefits of the training or ask your principle to talk to the staff before the training. A handwritten letter of appreciation for successful completion is a good motivator. Reward competence with a cash bonus or a paid afternoon off, if within your discretion to do so.

For senior staff, competence can be a condition for pay increments and promotions or be part of the annual performance review. This requires a structured approach with a formal training program and precise recordkeeping. Ensure that training is accessible to all staff members in order to avoid claims of discrimination.

In next month’s newsletter, we will look at the issue of negligent training.


Frank Mitchell’s background is as a private-service butler who then became a head butler at a hotel, and then a butler trainer with the Institute. While he continues to train butlers for the Institute occasionally, his focus for the last decade has been on training hotel and resort staff. He has written several columns for the MBJ over the years. 


The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.