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The benefits of cross-training staff

Director of Dining Services Giulianna Galiano-Gomez shares how she makes employee training a major focus.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Employee training is a major focus for Giulianna Galiano-Gomez,director of dining services for The Seasons assisted living home in East Greenwich, R.I., where foodservice is managed by Unidine. Here, she shares a bit about Unidine’s concept of diamond service and how cross-training hugely benefits staff.

Q: Can you share a bit about diamond service training?

It’s pretty much a training as well as a guidebook and resources about the steps of service and etiquette. … It’s a little more realistic than just the standard lead of saying to smile and be happy in front of guests. It goes more into depth of, OK, why is it important to smile? Why is it important to have eye contact with somebody of an elderly age? … Even our cooks and dishwashers are encouraged to undergo diamond service training.

At the end of the day, there might be a scenario where a dishwasher is in the hallway, and we want to make sure they’re trained as to how to interact with the resident. Same thing for a cook: If they ever have to serve a table, it’s great to be cross-trained in that etiquette so that everybody’s on the same professional level.

Giulianna Galiano-Gomez

Giulianna Galiano-Gomez

Q: What are some other benefits of cross-training staff?

You never know [what could happen]. In a pinch—if a lot of people call out, if there’s an emergency, if there’s a snowstorm—it’s better to have more people who know how to do back of house and front of the house. It also expands our education, and I think [employees] enjoy it. It’s great to put on their resume, and it builds their confidence. … We’re trying to get rid of the whole back-of-house versus front-of-house mentality because it’s really a team effort at the end of the day.

Q: How does cross-training work logistically?

When we cross-train, [employees] know the other side to it. As a server, they know the menu and they’ve witnessed what it takes to cook behind the line, but they haven’t physically done it. So we might slowly start training them through the course of a few weeks, perhaps assisting two of the cooks behind the line for dinner to kind of wet their feet. We also always try to integrate it where I have an extra person on hand—that way I’m not shorting the back of the house or front of the house a worker.

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