Frank Floor Talk: Nothing beats good training

May 22, 2024 9:45 AM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Buddy Frank, CDC Gaming Reports
May 22, 2024 9:45 AM
  • Buddy Frank, CDC Gaming Reports

The May-June 2024 issue of the Harvard Business Review quoted “a 2022 McKinsey survey that found a lack of career development and advancement was the most common reason people gave for quitting a job.” That stat got me to thinking about all the “career training” I’d received in 30+ years in casino gaming. Particularly, which courses, speakers, seminars or books really “made a difference”.

Story continues below

First, I had to realize that today’s environment is considerably different than when I last punched a clock eight years ago. Then, no one was threatening to replace me with AI, “pandemic” was just a medical term cited in history books, and Congress actually did something. Likewise, job switching was never a seasonal event.

Today, it is easy for me and my “OK Boomer” colleagues to blame it all on Zs and Millennials. But in a 2019 Forbes article, Genine Wilson wrote, “At a time when employee mobility is at a record high, employers must rethink their training programs so employees feel valued and are motivated to stay and advance in the organization because they can see the internal growth opportunities. While a pay bump can serve as a temporary fix, investing in an employee’s development through training offers long-term value for both the employer and the employee.”

And going back further to the pre-Z era, IBM found in 2010 that only 21% of new hires intend to stay at an organization that doesn’t offer training for their current role compared to 62% of new employees who do have access to ongoing training.

Apparently, generational shifts have little to do with it; training has always been critical to reducing turnover. And that has always had an impact on the bottom line. Today, the employment website Indeed says, “the average cost to replace a salaried employee is around six to nine months’ salary”.

That seems to be the cherry on the top of my personal belief that good training improves productivity, makes better teammates, and generates positive attitudes. But how does one define good training? It’s not easy.

One of the greatest retirement benefits I have enjoyed is not being required to sit through another session on “preventing sexual harassment” and/or “AML – Anti Money Laundering”. If you’re new to the industry, those two subjects are critical to know and master. But with mandatory annual attendance, I have left the last dozen or so of those repetitive and boring classes seriously wondering why I didn’t pursue a career in oceanography.

The best antidote to that kind of career wanderlust is “better” training, especially those programs aimed at personal and professional development.  Today, more than ever, there are great online programs worth pursuing. Here, I’ll cite some “oldies, but goodies” that I found helpful or inspiring.

In no particular order:

DISC – This productive program does an assessment of your behavioral and communication styles and places you in one of eight categories (DISC is an acronym for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientious). The assessment gives you pointers on how to communicate better with others based on your and their evaluation. It also give you tips on how to improve and minimize some of your negative traits. For those who’ve gone through the training, you might have guessed that I’m a “DI” and need to work on “listening”.

Rapport Leadership – The basic course in this program is a two-and-a-half day “boot camp”-like experience held in a remote location. It has some elements of tough love. This program can be truly transformational. Some managers showed remarkable improvements upon graduation that seemed to last for years. It is probably less impactful on those of us who were in the military, but it still provides some very useful communication concepts. If you enjoy their first course, there are several more in their program.

Book: “Who Moved The Cheese” – This is one of the quickest and most helpful reads in all of business. If you, or your teams, are struggling with “change” or the implementation of new programs or leadership, this is the book for you. I re-read it about every six months just because.

Book: “The No Complaining Rule” – The little book’s sub-title explains this in a nutshell: “Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work”.

Book: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – This was a best seller when it came out in 1989. I recently re-read it and found the text to be a little slow and less inspirational than I remembered. However, three of Stephen Covey’s seven “habits” have stuck with me for years. Each helped my career immensely: “Sharpen the Saw,” “Begin With The End In Mind,” and “Put First Things First.” Rather than reading the book, you might want to find a training course that is based on these Covey principles.

UNR/UNLV’s Gaming Executive Development Program – This is, hands down, the best industry training program anywhere! It is in its 34th year, pioneered by the late and legendary University of Nevada, Reno professor Bill Eadington. The EDP is held at Lake Tahoe shortly after G2E. It is self-described as a “professional development opportunity for the industry’s future C-suite executives.” Hopefully your organization will sponsor your attendance. Be forewarned, this program is stressful, requires hard work and is exhausting. But there’s no better investment in your gaming career future.

G2E/IGA/ICE Seminars – These three annual gaming conferences are wonderful sources of learning. While there is some commercialization via vendor pitches, there is also a great deal of valuable content, especially if you are new to the industry. The cost/reward ratio for these two or three days is hard to beat.

Honorable Mentions:

“One Minute Manager” – Blanchard & Johnson

QCI College

Gaming Management – Extended Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno

“The Servant Leader” – Blanchard

“The Breakthrough Factor” – Marsh

“Discipline Without Punishment” – Grote

Here’s a handful of quotes to bolster my arguments:

  • Albert Einstein – “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”
  • Henry Ford – “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
  • San Diego State University (which offers a degree in “Tribal Gaming”) – “Never Stop Learning.”
  • B. King – “The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.”
  • John F. Kennedy – “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
  • Mahatma Gandhi – “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” 
  • Buddy Frank – “Amen to all the above.”