Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, November 2018, Letters to the Editor

PostBoxLetters to the Editor

“I read one of your books, Butlers & Household Managers: 21st Century Professionals, and found it to be packed full of useful information and applicable tips, even for those of us not working in the same industry. I will be working on implementing some of them at work in the healthcare industry, and hope to inspire others to do the same.” KS

Ed: Thank you for making our day—our goal is to export the superior service fundamentals of the butler to all service industries, and you are the first individual reaching out and connecting from the health care industry. We wish you much success as you spearhead superior service in your field. On a personal note, if ever I needed an EMT, I would want someone as solicitous as you!

“Well done! A very nice summary and caution for what training cannot do, yet is often still expected to be done by those who do not take the time to perform a thorough assessment of the underlying issues. Adding some complexity to the matter, those who are often the only ones in a position to perform the assessment (estate manager or estate owner) will oftentimes insist upon and order training, thus diverting attention away from any issues they themselves may be creating. Naturally, the staff follows orders and goes to training, and keeps quiet. Those estates with open 360-degree feedback opportunities for all staff, however, allow management honestly to become aware of (and be held accountable for) their own performances, as well.” JG

Frank Mitchell: Thank you for your kind remarks. You make a valid point and unfortunately there is no easy answer. In the less structured arena of the private household, it may be difficult to pinpoint where the fault lies and in my experience, 360-degree feedback is not effective in a mismanaged environment. Whenever I am faced with this situation in the hospitality industry, I am reminded once again why a well-structured training system is so useful—it closes all the loopholes.

The need for training is indicated through the Training Needs Analysis process. This need not be complicated. What is it the staff will be able to do after training that they cannot do now? Before-and-after tests will show the efficacy of the training intervention. Once competency has been demonstrated to predetermined standards, performance in the workplace becomes more a management and motivational issue than a training issue.

Even if a properly setup training system is not in place, surely the manager must be held accountable for money spent? Training is expensive and the principle should expect a return on investment. Student feedback is insufficient—the training must be shown to work. If the team members have all been trained and yet are all struggling, probably the issue is elsewhere. If the manager is obstinate, they may go through several trainers, but eventually they must show results or the truth will out. Unfortunately, by that time many good staff members may well have been lost. Where it is the estate owner creating issues, I would expect low morale and a high staff turnover.


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.