Frank Mitchell Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, November 2019, Staff Training

Staff Training

by Frank Mitchell

Training – Coaching

Sometimes small errors are noted in the workplace, but the deviation from standard is insufficient to warrant a formal, recorded training session. Coaching is informal and can be done on the spot if it does not disturb the guests or family members. So for instance, if errors are noted during dinner service, it is better to coach staff later provided immediate intervention is not required for safety’s sake.

Use the feedback formula discussed earlier, always starting with positive feedback, followed by feedback for improvement. Tell them what they did followed by the correct way and an explanation of why it is better. If they made more than one error, addressing all of them at once can be disheartening. Fix the most important error and keep the others for another day.

Coaching differs from daily feedback in that it is the first rung on a ladder culminating in formal corrective action. Staff may recall the training very well but be obstinate about changing old habits. Don’t call them out. Simply coach them, check that they understand and seek a commitment from them that they will do it correctly in future. Tell them that you will follow up and then do so. In such cases, it is best to state the consequences of continued non-compliance.


This concludes Mr. Mitchell’s current series on training for the Journal.  The Institute would like to thank Mr. Mitchell on behalf of the MBJ readership for his edifying and very practical lessons on training, and we look forward to the next series when he can put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) again.

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.