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Training Your Employees: Flattening the Chicken

The speaker is training his employees in order to understand the purpose of their goals.

People are far smarter than typically given credit for. Often, there is a disconnect in training employees and/or communication that creates problems. When connecting people and processes, explaining why a process is relevant is just as important as what the processes are and how the processes work together.

Employees in the food service industry are taught to flatten a chicken breast to make sandwiches easier for customers to eat. One employee was taught over and over what to do and how to do it, but still would not flatten the chicken on a consistent basis. The employee understood the process and knew how to do it. What was never explained was why it was done. This left a complete disconnect to the relevance of flattening the chicken.

When we train employees, we often forget to explain why something is important. Explaining why help people understand the benefit of an extra step. This often involves interactive training with active communication.

Explaining why is something that can be utilized across multiple industries and with various levels of employees. It only takes a moment to create a learning connection that will last.

Humans are Not Generally Lazy or Incapable


The two women are talking about the capabilities of the people in an organization. They have specific training skills to perform in order to achieve their goal.


It is human nature to take shortcuts and complete something more simple, especially when relevance is not fully understood. This trait indicates that humans are smart and adaptable. Why would anyone want to include extra steps that don’t make sense?

Everyone is capable of learning. What tends to be forgotten is that people are different in how they learn. The lack of effective training of employees and communication is the reason people do not learn.

Everyone is more talented and capable than often perceived to be. Rarely is it a lack of will (motivation) or skill (ability) for people to complete a task. It is typically a lack of explaining why a specific step in the process is important.

During Training, Why is Just as Important as What and How


The man is smiling and cooking while pointing out his cooking tool and performing his training skills.


Often, when training, what a process is and how it is done is all that is explained. Why is typically ignored under the assumption that people will automatically know why? The thing is everyone is different. We’re human, not robots.

When training people on processes, it is important to remember to address why things are done the way they are. In the case of flattening the chicken, no one explained that it is flattened so people could comfortably eat a chicken sandwich without having to unhinge their jaws.

Training on why steps are taken requires an interactive approach. This creates stronger mental connections by engaging multiple senses: sight, sound, and touch. Visual aids create an abstract concept. Having the trainee repeat what was taught further strengthens the connections as they internally interpret the lesson, so it makes better sense to them.

Use in All Industries and Employee Levels


This method of training can be used for simple complex processes where every step is equally important, and the entire process might take a lot of time to complete. It is applicable regardless of what your industry (restaurant, construction, manufacturing, etc.) is or what level the employee is (front line, ground crew, mid-management, upper management, etc.).

While front-line employees are typically the people to do much of the work, it is equally important that managers completely understand every step everyone does in all the processes they oversee. The further up the chain of command a person goes, the more processes they typically need to understand.

Ensure each employee knows WHY it is important to flatten the chicken


The man is sitting in front of his not sure ideas. But because of some trainings that are possible to happen, he will have answers to his questions in the future.


When people do not see the relevance of a step in a process, they tend to skip that step to make work easier and quicker. This is a part of nature in general: the path of least resistance.

If you want the chicken flattened so the customers can easily eat a chicken sandwich, train why you want it done, show them why (like using a visual of a customer eating a thick chicken sandwich), and then have the person repeat the reason why back.

Interested in learning more? Check us out at Effective Performance Strategies or download your ebook at www.ryancweiss.com/ebook. Listen to the podcast on Spotify to align people & processes, and subscribe to our Newsletter to get updated every Tuesday morning!

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