How We Train Young Managers to Succeed
By Rex Bartles, Senior Director of Food & Nutrition, University Healthcare System, Augusta, Ga.
Kia Dumas was 21 years old and had just completed our Manager in Training Program (now known as the Accelerated Manager Program, or AMP) when I asked her to manage the coffee shop at our hospital. She had been trained for a retail manager’s job elsewhere with Morrison Healthcare, but we needed her. The supervisor for the bistro had quit, we were short-staffed, and sales were lagging – but I knew Kia could turn it around.
Within a few weeks, she had the coffee shop running smoothly. Kia boosted sales by promoting seasonal drinks, offering “buy one, get one free” specials, and giving away Biscotti cookies with coffee. And she knew how to take advantage of crucial events. For example, she worked with one of our vendors to offer chocolate-covered brownies with sprinkles for Valentine’s Day, which drove in additional customers.
The bistro had only four employees, and she held all of them accountable if they were late or missed work. Kia, now a retail manager at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, says her training as a Manager in Training (MIT) has served her well.
“I’ve been able to apply everything I learned at Augusta to my other jobs – from marketing to boosting sales to building relationships with the staff,” she says. “It’s an excellent training ground for anyone who wants to be in foodservice.”
University Healthcare System in Augusta, Ga., has become one of the places where future Morrison managers cut their teeth. Since I started working here four years ago, five MITs have received their on-site training here.
Before each candidate arrives, we are informed if they plan to work in retail, culinary or patient services. During the 12-week training period, the manager in training will “shadow” several people to learn and understand their roles. For example, to learn how our cafés operate, they will work with a range of associates from the retail managers to the cashiers.
While each person in the Accelerated Manager Program (AMP) spends a lot of time in an online classroom, this type of “hands-on” experience in every aspect of the café’s operation prepares them for the daily challenges of a manager’s job.
For example, they learn how to prepare a work schedule for the staff. Each of our associates at our hospital knows their schedule three weeks ahead of time. A new manager may be expected to develop a schedule on the first day they arrive at a new job. When they go into an account, I want them to feel confident that they can run the department.
What AMPs Learn About Themselves
AMPs are often fresh out of college or have worked for a short period in another foodservice position. During their training, they learn about all aspects of foodservice, and sometimes it changes the focus of their careers.
One of those people is Victoria Buschkamp. She enjoys helping others, which was evident during her training last year as a future retail manager. We could see how well she interacted with guests in the café, so we approached her about taking on a new position as the patient experience manager. She readily accepted, expressing a clear passion for the position, and was hired immediately after finishing her training.
In this role, she helps improve patient satisfaction, provides insight on improving patient services, and analyzes and reports vendor survey information. Victoria’s skills, training, and personality are a perfect fit for the position.
First-Hand Knowledge of the Trainee Experience
Training new AMPs is an exciting experience because I went through the process myself. Eight years ago, I came to this hospital with my father to visit a family friend. I had graduated from Georgia Southern University with a degree in Hospitality Management and was working at a restaurant.
Bob Halliday, then the Director of Food and Nutrition at the time, came to visit the patient since they both went to the same church. We struck up a conversation and my father mentioned that I had recently graduated in the hospitality field. Bob said to give him a call, and I was enrolled in the program a few months later.
I also remember Bob Halliday telling me that after my training, I wouldn’t get to stay here. I did move to work at a few different hospitals in a few different roles, but eventually ended up back here.
Training new AMPs can be challenging, but it’s a rewarding experience. I get to relive my first moments of working at Morrison each time a new person comes here. It also keeps me on my toes. I learn a lot from them, mostly how to teach and work with different types of people. And at the end of the training, it’s satisfying to play a role in advancing someone’s career. Kia Dumas and Victoria Buschkamp are proof of that.