Personality “Pop”
Finding, Hiring, Training and Keeping
Friendly Employees with Personality

Establishing a Foundation Before you Begin

Without a well thought out plan for the building and development of your employee team, there is a good chance that you will be extremely frustrated, dissatisfied and even worse, settle below the bar with the number one asset and success determinant of your family entertainment or leisure business. Here’s why.  You (the owner or manager) will choose or hire in your own mirror image.  For what seems to be the best method of selection, the problem exists because your personality may not be best suited for ongoing, memorable, face-to-face encounters.  With the exception to a few gems, managers and owners are talented in many areas of business; only a rare few can duplicate and inspire an effective employee team.  
Many of you, if you were honest with yourself, would fail under your own people skills minimum standard.  Not necessarily by intent, but because of the multi-faceted, multi-tasked, multi-tugged-at business that engulfs your time on a day-to-day basis.  Most owners and managers work way too hard “IN” the business, instead of “ON” the business, according to Michael Gerber of The E Myth Revisited.  This especially holds true for human resource development.  So check your ego at the door and put your time and efforts into a system for finding, hiring, training and retaining personalities that “POP.”

Your Fundamental “People” Philosophy

What’s yours?  Will it work in this day and age, with today’s young employee?  Let’s find out yours.  Answer this question with the first word or phrase that comes to mind…ready?  “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.  How can you influence him to drink?”  Stop, write something down.  If you thought; run him around until he gets good and tired, feed him salty food, push his head under or throw him in the middle of the watering hole … then unfortunately you have an old school management philosophy that will not be effective with today’s youth.  Change, research new, modern, effective leadership methods or get into another business.   The old saying you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar applies now more than ever with today’s youth, even with horse flies.   If you answered: teach him how good it will be to drink, take him to a nice watering hole, show him other horses drinking, give him a pet on the nose or one of the best answers, start out with a horse that wants to drink.  You are ready to read on.

7 Steps to Building an Employee Team that “Pops”

Do you know what “IT” is?  There is no definition, you just known when someone’s got it.  Some people have “IT”naturally, it’s usually obvious.  Some people can learn to develop “IT” with time, patience and a good teacher.  But others will never have “IT” so don’t bother wasting your time thinking you’re the next Dr. Phil and can change them.  Your mission, find “IT”, hire “IT”, and treat “IT” well so “IT” stays.

Step 1:   What does “IT” look like?

Define the special qualities or personas that make up each department’s employee.

  • Outgoing, “Fun Loving”
  • Strong Character and Will
  • Enthusiastic
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Caring
  • Courteous and friendly
  • Smiles
  • Patient
  • Humble, High self esteem
  • Loyal, Dependable
  • Self starters
  • Curious

Step 2:   Where does “IT” hang out?

Look for them in their natural habitats – where folks like them live, work and play.
Once you know what you’re looking for, go to where they are.  Tell them your message and invite them to come see you, when “their” need arises.  Send out your best employees to tell their friends what you’re all about and how fun and rewarding it is to work with you.  Look to become the job of choice in the community where everyone “wants” to be.  Establish a unique image, pay them win-win and they’ll search you out.  Look in the following places to find great employees.

  • Friends and family of existing employees or past top-performing employees.
  • Drama departments, cheer teams (high schools and colleges within a five mile radius.)
  • Students involved in clubs, student council or other school activities.
  • Christian center groups and other organized church groups.
  • Certain sports athletes with good team and leadership skills. Look for the “Rudys,” not the stars who have never had to work for it.
  • YMCA, recreation and community program leaders.
  • College students in the following majors: Early Childhood Education, Recreation, Drama, Communication, Hospitality and Food and Beverage.

Networking throughout the community is the best way to get the word out and get high quality referral prospects sent to you.  Help wanted ads may be the easiest and most common human resource advertising, but definitely the least effective.  Who looks in the help wanted section?  Job jumpers and low performers looking for greener grass to jump, typically bringing their bad habits with them.  Begin networking with key people in leadership positions, who are where your target employee audience congregates.

  • Explain your business, why it’s unique and what’s in it for them.
  • Explain your employee culture and core values, as well as the professional growth they will receive in a job with you.
  • Let them know you continually look and are always willing to hire quality people.  Invite them to send qualified, interested people to fill out an application, any time.  Remember to give them something in return.

Step 3: Search and sift through the masses with a “Tryout”

Sift through the high volume of potential employees to discover those personalities that fit your objective, without the wasted time of a traditional interviewing process.
Identify personality and character traits from the application, rather than the usual focus on past experience.  Application clues include: Involvement in community activities, sports teams, unique clubs and organizations, interesting hobbies, volunteer work, child-related jobs, such as baby-sitting services, paper routes and daycare instructors.

  • Invite a group of 6 – 20 applicants or current team members who have expressed interest in becoming part of your team.
  • Send out a “Tryout” invitation letter to each potential applicant.  (Tryout invitation does not guarantee employment.)
  • Make sure to get a RSPV, so you know how many will attend.  Sunday evening is the best time to schedule a tryout.
  • Make sure they are fun and social.
  • Personalities will emerge; each attendee can be evaluated throughout the session.
  • The best person to evaluate and rate each attendee is a high performing employee, without pressure, influence or obstruction of additional layers from management or owners.  If not, instead of the mirror image of a high performer, you will again add your own personal bias and alter the type of employee you really want.

Try Out Format

  • Five minutes: Explanation of what’s expected – brief philosophy and instruction.
  • Five minutes: Ice breaker games.
  • 30 minutes: Pure fun and social games or activities to all personalities to rise up.
  • 20 minutes: Group interview questions – set up mini groups to answer real job issues with a creative presentation.  Sample questions: Make up a unique and fun way to greet and exit guests.  How would you handle the Mom who has a service problem?
  • 10 minutes: Socialize – pizza and soda.
  • Give each a performance agreement – they must read and understand before you can offer them a job.
  • Hire only the top layer of the group with the personalities that match your definition of a friendly, high energy, high performing employee.

Step 4: Develop the tools to teach the skills consistently.

Develop the training tools and systems into written manuals to yield consistent and “duplicate-able” results.

  • Vision story “Let me tell you a story about how my business will look, sound, feel, smell and taste when their done perfectly.”
  • Performance agreement including a set of standards to achieve “your” goals, employment policies and philosophy, codes of conduct, behavior standards and service recovery parameters.
  • Role description for each position on the team.
  • Standards of operational procedures or operations manual, to be used in training.
  • Operation manual quizzes (pre training and post training).
  • Care (give back) program plan – a commitment to giving back to your team.

Step 5: Give them the tools to succeed.

  • Develop scripts for consistent performance – greeting / exit scripts, incoming call, booking scripts, attraction instruction scripts and guest interaction scripts.
  • All the supplies and resources necessary to accomplish their job, without frustration.
  • Props for unique activities and guest interaction.
  • Training for high quality interaction, creating memorable experiences and wow moments.

Step 6: Duplicate your best with a training system

Once you have hired in the mirror image of your high performing employee, let the same person(s) train them, like them.  Training and the learning “take” is elevated and accelerated with sensory training, while teaching in all learning modalities. Some people learn best by hearing it, some by seeing it and some by doing it.  Learning through what we see, hear and do along with repetition, encompasses the most effective form of long-term learning.

  • Immerse – (kinesthetic, or doing it.) Students are placed in the environment doing exactly what the guest experiences from their perspective.
  • Teach – (auditory, or hearing it.) Teach students the skills and systems of exactly how to present each segment of your business.
  • Mirror and shadowing – (visual, seeing it, kinesthetic, doing it.)   Here students see it done by a high performer and then learn by modeling their style as well as practicing what they have learned, with one-on-one coaching.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words, an experience is worth ten thousand pictures.

Team Training Overview (minimum of 10-15 hours)

Day 1: See and Do (1 hour)

  • Immerse the new team member(s) into the environment as a guest, riding rides, playing games, eating food and moving through the facility from the guest’s point of view, while recording any questions that arise from their visit.
  • Give them the operations manual and pre-quiz in an open book format (must get an 85 percent or higher to move on in training)

Day 2 – Hear (2 – 4 hours)

  • Teach (3-4 hours) Teach the specific skills of the Party Hero as outlined in the training manual.
  • Role play the fundamentals

Day 3: Hear (4 hours)

  • Teach (3-4 hours) Teach the specific skills of the Party Hero as outlined in the training manual.
  • Role play the fundamentals.

Days 4 – 7: See and Do (5 – 10 hours)

  • Mirror /Model (2 hours). Mirroring is experiencing the position by duplicating high performers in action.
  • Modeling (3-8 hours). The high performer instructor takes the student under their wing during their shifts and coaches them through live transactions with guests, while assuring the quality or the presentation is never at risk.  The student continues to practice while the instructor monitors their actions until they feel they are ready to be on their own.
  • Final Quiz and Role Play
  • Give a final quiz (the same one they took, but in a different order, closed book.)
  • Role-play a variety of situations they may not have encountered during training.  (i.e. service recovery situations, late food, guest injury.) Evaluate their competency.

Step 7: Appreciate them by giving back “First”

The most effective and economical solution to building and maintaining a strong employee team is “Retention,” keeping them around. Orchestrating an employee team who “Wants” to be there and genuinely cares about the guest experience, is always more effective, productive and profitable. Manipulating, coercing and controlling employees to achieve your result simply because you pay them, simply does not work with today’s young workforce.  What’s in it for me?  Why should I?  What are you doing for me?  Is it fun?  These are the common mantras for today’s youth employee market.  If they don’t like their own answer to these questions, they leave.  The ones who stay are the employees you don’t want to stay.
The factors that you have control over as a leader are key to their satisfaction as well as your business success. Support systems, tools to assist their success, the surrounding environment and yourself are under your control. You create the atmosphere and how you choose to treat your employees. Unappreciated employees result in low production and low performance. Flip it, so your team feels good about coming to work in an environment where they feel cared for, respected and appreciated. A place they can have fun together, grow and allow their creative spirits to flourish. In the end they will stay longer and treat your guest better.  Bottom line: happy employees equal happy guests.
To ensure folks “choose” to “want” to work in your business, while at the same time “choose” to motivate themselves towards your desired result, think in the following terms:

  • Design your working environment with your team in mind.  Identify their top three key frustrations and eliminate them.
  • Give clear expectations, set objectives, define performance up front and then measure it and give feedback.
  • Tell the story of what your business looks like when it’s done perfectly.  Tell it often to everyone.
  • Provide all the tools they need to succeed.  Do not handicap them and expect them to figure it out.
  • Install, nurture and perpetuate a strong culture.  Base it on trust.  Create a feeling of ownership.  Eliminate “Old” school thinking.
  • Remove the road blocks, including you.  “Get out of the way and let them succeed.”
  • Make it fun, celebrate, often.  Reward and recognize, show you care, first.
  • Provide for continual growth and development.  Employees stay where they are continually growing.
  • Provide ongoing training.
  • Build feelings of pride!

(Frank W. Price is the founder of Birthday University (BU) and the FL Price and Associates training firm. For BU class information or custom development and training of your group programming concepts, contact Price by visiting or by calling 919-387-1966.)

You May Also Like…