Ask A Pro: B.J. Kirk from Shari’s Cafe And Pies

In this Ask A Pro, we talk to B.J. Kirk from Shari’s Cafe and Pies. We work with some extraordinary L&D professionals and love to highlight the work they do. The Ask A Pro column does just that by selecting L&D pros from among our clients and asking them a few short questions about Learning and Development.

Name one thing that inspires you?

I get inspired by being part of the development of others. If I can help someone else reach their goals, that is very exciting for me. I am an open book, if I know something I am happy to share, just ask.

Shari's Cafe and Pies building. B.J. Kirk talks L&D tips with Wisetail LMS.

What do you know about Learning & Development now that you wish you knew earlier?

By no means do I know everything there is to know in the world of learning and development, but I have amazing mentors that I lean on frequently. One thing that I have picked up recently that I wish I would have done out of the gate is video production. For years we have blended tutorials with workbooks, but recently we’ve pumped up the tutorials a bit with some video production tricks, which help with engagement. Reaching our younger audience while carefully balancing tools that “speak” to the older generations has been an exciting challenge. Keep your content simple but don’t dummy it down too much is my new motto.

What’s a brand new tip, technique or idea that has you excited?

I started working on observation checklists when they launched, but I lost sight of them early on. I’m ready to dive back into that fray as I have over a hundred paper checklists that I think can be streamlined into our University. I believe that they will provide a dynamic learner experience and should get my long term team trainers in the system more to assist with their development as they may see something that interests them. Additionally, I am always tinkering with new ways to make modules more exciting. I steal ideas I see on Apex Live and look for best practices from other Wisetailers, I cannot wait for an opportunity to gain more ideas in Bozeman in October.

What’s working well in Shari’s training program?

We have a cream of the crop training system that is highly adaptable to the changes that happen regularly. We developed an apprentice track for nearly all of our jobs, which take a slower approach from our regular training. This allows the learner more time to hone their skills while being cross-trained or bringing on a person with little experience such as the weak labor pool in the cook trade right now. We see the biggest impact in materials when we ask for feedback and then do something with it. We use the Homework feature A LOT to solicit photos, operating practices and ideas on very specific topics. We recently had a user-submitted video contest and had tremendous views on all of that content. It was a ton of fun for those who participated and we are planning on a repeat contest soon. Our Now@s are gaining traction, our support departments are all interested in having their own to deliver information to the field, it’s exciting to see more people engaging regularly.

Shari's Cafe and Pies logo. B.J. Kirk talks L&D tips with Wisetail LMS.
“If I can help someone else reach their goals, that is very exciting for me. I am an open book, if I know something I am happy to share, just ask.”

– B.J. Kirk

Read more about our Restaurant Partners: