Frank Mitchell Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, November 2018, Staff Training

Staff Training

by Frank Mitchell

Setting Standards

Standards are one of the three S’s of training; Service, Standards and Safety. It is the minimum performance required for competency and consists of Performance Standards and Quality Standards. (i.e. How neatly and how quickly a task must be done.) The trainer must decide, record and practice the standards before demonstrating them and testing them in training.

If a standard cannot be written down or measured, it can neither be taught nor tested, nor can staff be held responsible for not achieving or maintaining it. If staff perceive the application of standards to be inconsistent or arbitrary, it will lead to insecurity, low morale and high employee turnover. The same goes for unrealistic standards. If you expect a staff member to complete a task as fast as you can do it, ask whether you could realistically keep up that pace over the course of a workday. Nor is it realistic to expect an inexperienced staff member, the likely target of training, to complete the task as well and as quickly as an experienced staff member.

Before setting standards, ask if it is useful, helpful or necessary. Standards should not be restrictive – they are a minimum and high performing staff should be allowed the creative freedom to excel.

Next month we will introduce the concept of Instructional Design.

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 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.