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Training & Business Systems

What is Bottom-Line Training®?

This is Part 1 of a multi-part series on the basics of our Bottom-Line Training method.

Creating the Training Method

When ZingTrain was founded in 1994, Maggie Bayless, ZingTrain’s Founding Partner, joined the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses as the third Zingerman’s business along with the Delicatessen and the Bakehouse. Her expertise in training method and instructional design was essential for the formation of strong employee training systems, which has been a major part of the long-term success of our organization.

Maggie designed the Training Passport, which clearly states what success looks like for all new employees during their first ninety days of employment. This was critical in the early days, transferring the key elements of a strong service culture from a mature business (the 12-year-old Deli) to the fledgling start-up (the Bakehouse). It is equally important today, as Zingerman’s makes up 10 businesses with over 700 employees. Maggie was able to step back and identify the important things that leaders were doing. She then turned them into teachable, repeatable tools that anyone in the organization could use, and documented practical working systems that continue to benefit the entire Zingerman’s organization!  

This revolutionary approach, Bottom-Line Training® – so unique it qualified for a registered trademark! – has been taught by ZingTrain for over twenty years through on-site seminars and workshops, and virtual training. Hundreds, if not thousands, of clients apply these training methods to work in their own businesses. However, Bottom-Line Training® remains one of the topics that clients new to ZingTrain find a bit of a mystery.

Defining the Bottom-Line Training Method

In essence, Bottom-Line Training® is training that has a positive impact on one or more of your organization’s bottom lines.

Employee training takes many forms. It can be as simple as a poster showing the correct way to carry a sharp knife, or as complex as a ‘Welcome to Our Business!’ class taught to every new employee. 

Some training has a positive impact on multiple bottom lines. For example, in a restaurant, food safety training will impact 1) the customer service bottom line by avoiding unpleasant food-based illness, 2) the financial bottom line with no need for a refund after a bad experience, and 3) the product quality bottom line serving safe, consistent food. 

To clarify, Bottom-Line Training® is not:

  • A giant manual that lives in a binder on a shelf getting dusty and out of date almost immediately upon printing.
  • Something that is the sole responsibility of one leader.
  • Led by a very enthusiastic employee who prioritizes what they are the most passionate about.
  • A program that needs to be fully completed before any implementation.
  • Something a business does just for fun, or because they have extra time 

Bottom-Line Training® is a specific approach to employee training. It is a set of tools used to formalize onboarding and organize training, and a mindset that engages both the trainer and trainee in the effectiveness of training. At the heart of our Bottom-Line Training method is the intention to put information, resources, and responsibilities in the hands of the person who needs it the most – the trainee.

Training Tools in Bottom-Line Training®

Bottom-Line Training® has two key components – the 4 Training Plan Questions and the Training Compact. Each of these will get their own blog post, but here is a sneak preview of what is to come:

4 Training Plan Questions:

  1. What is expected of the trainee – and by when?
  2. How will information be made available?
  3. How will we know if the expectations are/are not being met?
  4. What are the rewards or consequences of meeting/not meeting expectations?

The 4 Training Plan Questions are used by managers to create Training Passports (or Training Plans) that lay out for a trainee what success will look like for them at the end of their training period. This could be for an orientation period of 90 days or for a full year of performance management. 

When used effectively, every single new employee receives a passport on their first day. It contains a blend of organization wide expectations and expectations more specific to their department and role. It is their roadmap to let them know what needs to be accomplished to complete orientation and be fully up-to-speed at their job.

Employee Training Compact:

Trainers agree to:

  1. Document clear performance expectations
  2. Provide training resources
  3. Recognize performance
  4. Reward performance

Trainees agree to:

Take responsibility for the effectiveness of their training

The Training Compact is ideally taught at the beginning of any training, whether a formal class or on-shift. Both parties are clear on their role in training, and take ownership of that role. No one can make anyone else learn! Asking trainees to take responsibility for the effectiveness of their training ensures they’ll get what they need out of it.

When used together, the 4 Training Plan Questions, the Training Compact, and Training Passports result in highly engaged trainees, more effective trainers, and employees who are fully up to speed and successful in their roles.

Learn more about our Bottom-Line Training method