Frank Mitchell Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, May 2019, Staff Training

Staff Training

by Frank Mitchell


Telling is not teaching. Demonstrate the task. Remember the two standards from Chapter 8? This requires two demonstrations. I start by demonstrating the quality standard, taking my time and explaining what I am doing and why. “This is how neatly you must do it to pass your test. Note what I am doing with the corners – if you do not align them, the fold will not work.”

Next, demonstrate the speed necessary to achieve competence. This is not how fast you can do it. Showing off will confuse participants. Demonstrate the minimum pace required for competence, while maintaining the quality standard demonstrated earlier. Avoid repeating explanations from the quality demonstration – they will slow you down.

Note that you must ask questions throughout, but we will cover this in more detail under ‘Explore’.

When training groups, ensure that everyone has an unobstructed view. Even in one-on-one training, a participant may stand at a respectful distance and not be able to see the finer details of what you are demonstrating. Bring them closer. If you say “fold to your left” while facing them, you can introduce confusion. It is better to stand alongside them and demonstrate exactly what you want them to do.

Next month we look at the third ‘P’ in POPPER which stands for ‘Practice’.

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.