Frank Mitchell Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, July 2019, Staff Training

Staff Training

by Frank Mitchell


Questions are vital. They help the trainer gauge the depth and extent of the participants’ understanding. Failure to question students can lead to duplication of action without understanding. They may pass the assessment but be unable to apply the training in real-life.

Ask questions throughout but be aware that asking questions during your demonstration of the required pace for competency may slow you down. For the same reason, ask questions while the participant is practicing, but not during their assessment.

Any time you think to share info, stop and rephrase it as a question. Instead of saying; “Do not rub too hard.” ask; “Why do you think it is important not to rub too hard?” Open questions are far more effective than closed questions.

After the practice, it is important to ask at least two questions that check understanding. These questions are not part of the assessment and cover a scenario not addressed in training.  So, in napkin folding, you might ask; “What will you do if you find a loose thread on a napkin?” Can the participant think and apply? If they answer incorrectly, the participant may still pass the assessment, but require closer supervision in the first few weeks after training.

Next month we will look at the ‘R’ of POPPER which stands for ‘review’.

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, resort, and palace staff in general. He has written several well-received columns for the MBJ over the years and can be contacted via the Institute. 

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.