Does the Buddy System Work?

November 30, 2012 2 Comments

By Allen F. Weitzel

Blog Editor Allen F. Weitzel has been a trailblazer in the recreation field for 45 seasons. He most recently led the safety and training department at a California amusement park for 25 seasons.

 

What Is the Buddy System?

Experts classify the buddy system as a process in which two people, the ‘buddies,’ operate together as a single unit so that they are able to monitor and help each other. They are normally of equal rank and pay. In the recreation industry, the buddy system is addressed in several ways.

How Does It Work?

One approach is to assign a new employee a buddy when they are hired. The buddy helps orient the new worker to the standard operating procedures, such as how to clock in, when they get their breaks, the operating polices of the company, who to see if they have various problems, etc. Some operations also require the buddy to be the primary trainer to the worker, training them how to perform the assigned job. Some facilities allow the employee to select a buddy. That buddy would provide an orientation as to the ins and outs of the company, but also become their confidant if the new worker becomes unhappy and wants to vent or seek advice about solving a problem. A few operations consider the buddy to only be a trainer for the new worker. The buddy system is often used in smaller venues, where there are fewer written procedures for the new worker to access and follow.

What Are The Question Marks?

When managing any operation, it is important to have a good grasp of human nature and to understand how employees think. Employees will gravitate to people they like, so assigning a buddy (a stranger if you will) to a new employee is really a match that assumes that the employee will like the person they are required to work with.

How many buddies do you need on the payroll to make the buddy system effective in the eyes of the new worker? Does a veteran buddy receive additional compensation for being a buddy? Is the buddy of equal pay and ranking to the new worker? If not, then you may have created an employee/manager relationship. There may now be employment law issues that must be addressed.

When you assign a specific veteran employee to become the buddy of a new worker, you need to consider the overall picture. Is the expectation that the new worker will like their newly assigned buddy? Is the expectation of the buddy to train the new worker or merely make them feel happy and content with their new job? If the new employee and the buddy do not jell well together, do you assign a different buddy to the new worker? Who decides if the buddy and the new worker are not getting along? If there is a dual trainer/friend role for the buddy, then what function takes priority – new employee comfort or job training? What is the attitude of the buddy? Are they company-oriented or anti-establishment oriented? How do you verify the attitude of the assigned buddy?

You must understand that employees will learn on their own, even if they have a buddy. They will also decide who they will listen to. If your buddy match is not working, the new employee may decide to listen and learn from another employee who does not have the best interests of the company at heart.

What Is The Solution?

I think it is a good idea to assign a trainer to connect with the new employee, to educate them, and help them establish and maintain good work habits.

I do not, however, feel that the buddy system is a clean solution toward making an employee feel welcome, comfortable and well educated. As listed above, there are too many question marks, regardless of what size of operation you run, to make the pure buddy system work well for the new employee.

I believe in the ‘employee trainer’ concept. You hire and/or develop a limited number of trainers, higher in rank, who possess the qualities of a good buddy and are also good teachers. Restrict the number of trainers so you can monitor their performance, and make it easier for you to train these trainers on new changes in the organization. Have a trainer assigned to meet, train and mentor the new worker. Yes, it will be an instant supervisor/employee relationship, but that system will be easy for the new employee to understand. Make sure your trainers possess the qualities of good leaders, ‘buddies,’ teachers, and confidants all wrapped into one person. If your trainers are good, they can still be a buddy, but one that keeps your new worker on the path to becoming a great and happy worker.

Back
2 Comments to “Does the Buddy System Work?”
  1. David Rack says:

    Coming up to guide and employee training season here in May. This is a great idea to use during our intensive training week, but also a great way to incorporate a new employee that joins us mid summer.
    Keep up the tips!

    • David, Thanks for checking in on the blogs. I’m glad that some tips were helpful. Spring is always a hectic time and I understand that every little idea helps. If there is anything else I can assist with, feel free to ask – via TAP or my website. Keep on training! -Allen F. Weitzel

Sponsors

Gould Manufacturing, Ltd.

Concession trailers and Antique, Jeep and Grand Prix auto rides.

See Coast Manufacturing Co., Inc.

Coin-operated binoculars and telescopes.

Empex Water Toys

Aquatons Water Toys

Cost of Wisconson

Creators of simulated environments, duplicate structures, sculpted figures, exhibits, water features, mini-golf and more.

Embed

Provides innovative IT products and services with a primary focus on card-based solutions and database applications for the leisure and retail industries.

Center Edge Software

Facility Management Software Solutions

Qubica

Sells capital equipment to bowling centers.

Poly Products

Tables, benches and related products. Green products for a green world.

Wisdom Industries, Ltd.

Amusement ride manufacturer, new and used rides.

Rides-4-U, INC.

New and used rides, kiddie, family, major and thrill.

Adventure Glass

Unique paddleboats.

Gold Medal Products Co.

Concession equipment, foods and beverages, popcorn, pretzels and snack foods.

Midway Concepts (Circus Tops)

Premier designers of stainless steel food service equipment.

Max Flight

Manufactures interactive virtual reality motion-platform game systems including networkable flight and roller coaster simulators.

S&S Worldwide

Large Park amusement rides.

Quik N' Crispy (QNC)

Quik n’ Crispy greaseless fryer.

Xtreme Inflatables

Repair and service for all inflatable products.

Weldon, Williams & Lick

Admission systems and wristband ticketing.

Tear Repair

Tear-Aid industrial strength patches to repair holes and tears.

Money Tree - ATM

ATM machines.

Rio Syrup

Over 250 flavors, syrups and concentrates for shaved ice, sno cones, shushes, food colors. Now featuring Hawaiian Flower Cups.

Northeast Insurance (NIC)

Insurance programs.

Barron Games

Redemption air hockey games.

Aquaventronics

Research and development of interactive water games for use in the commercial amusement industry.

Brunswick Bowling

Entertainment bowling center developer and manufacturer of bowling equipment and entertainment products.

Castle Golf, Inc.

Planning, design and construction of miniature golf courses and family fun parks.

Spectrum Sports

Climbing walls, ropes courses, go-karts and more.

Laser Star

Laser shooting galleries, laser tag, dark ride target systems, overhead target ranges.

Precision Dynamics (PDC)

Wristbands with no hidden costs, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Wristband System.

Tokens Direct

A wide variety of tokens.

Ride Development Corp.

Electric floor, gas and battery-powered bumper cars.

Price Chopper, Inc. Wristbands

Admission, financial equipment and wristbands.

Store on Wheels

Importer and distributor of quality toys, lighting and novelties. Cater to the amusement, retail and entertainment industries.

Wells Fargo

Commercial insurance for inflatables and event planners.

Wapello Fabrications

Inflatables and portable amusements.

Formula K Raceways

Go-karts, kiddie cars and bumper boats, go-kart parts and tires.

CFX Composite & Effects

Special effects make-up and prosthetics

Safari Ltd.

Leading manufacturer of innovative educational toys.

Family Fun Corp.

Waterpark walls for rivers, bumper boat and splash down pools.

Action Lighting Co.

Lighting supplies.

Lazer Runner

Laser Tag Systems

Belson Manufacturing Co.

Park and recreation outdoor furniture and equipment.

Beckman Insurance Agency

Amusement attractions insurance.

Amusement Entertainment Management (AEM)

Premier entertainment consultants.

Master Pitching Machine

Batting cages and pitching machines.

Hamilton Manufacturing Corp.

Manufacturer of unattended entry systems and change machines.

Richie's Italian Ice

Italian Ice Kiosks and Carts

Kay Park Recreations Corp.

Picnic tables, grills, park benches, planters, trash containers and more.

Johnny Rockets
LMap Powered by Silvercrest
Premier Polysteel
Spectrum Sports
Cannonball Blaster
Funovation
Empex Water Toys