It Cannot Just Be Written; It Must Also
Corporate Policy Manual?
What Corporate Policy Manual?
by Steven John Fellman
NATO Washington Counsel
Every major exhibitor and most smaller exhibitors
have comprehensive policy manuals and training programs
to teach front-line theatre management how to deal with
problems that arise in typical theatre operations. Whether
the issue involves maintenance, ADA compliance, sexual
harassment, or how to deal with an unruly patron, the programs
and manuals provide a list of simple step-by-step instructions
that the theatre staff should follow in dealing with a
particular problem. Management spends much time and effort
preparing these materials. They are designed to protect
the company, enhance the enjoyment of patrons, educate
employees, and limit company exposure to possible legal
There is no value in spending a great deal of time
and money in developing and
formulating policies and then not following up with adequate training.
But how effective are these manuals and
training programs? They can be presented in a multi-lingual
by a professional educator, and reviewed by four teams
of lawyers, but unless employees are constantly trained
and retrained on the meaning and importance of the company
policies, all of management’s efforts will fall
by the wayside.
Recently, John Fithian and I were asked
to speak at a meeting of a NATO regional affiliate association.
One of the subjects
that we both addressed was the issue of how to deal with
a patron who is camcording a movie. Our audience was composed
of approximately 150 theatre managers representing large
circuits, regional circuits and individually-owned theatres.
In advising managers of what action to take, we emphasized
the need for all employees, first and foremost, to follow
the specific company policies of their employer.
During the course of my presentation, we
focused on the question of what happens if the camcorder
unruly. I decided to tie this discussion involving camcording
to exhibitor policies on how to deal with disruptive or
rowdy patrons. I knew that all theatre chains have policies
informing managers how to deal with the unruly and disruptive.
To lead into this discussion, I asked for
a show of hands of how many managers have had to deal with
an unruly or
disruptive patron within the last year. This audience of
approximately 150 theatre managers was most responsive.
In reply to my question, there was a show of hands and
almost every manager raised his or her hand. I figured
that I had the audience on a roll and I asked my next question: “How
many of the theatre circuits that you work for have a policy
on how to deal with an unruly or disruptive patron?” Only
four hands were raised. I assumed that the audience did
not understand the question, and I repeated the question.
Again, only four solitary hands were raised.
Your company policies and training programs
are of no value unless your staff employees are familiar
with the policies
and know how to implement the policies. The message from
this manager’s meeting was loud and clear. Exhibitors
are not adequately training managers. And if managers don’t
know what the company policies are regarding how to deal
with unruly or disruptive patrons, how can you expect the
theatre staff to know what policies to follow?
There is no value in spending a great deal
of time and money in developing and formulating policies
and then not
following up with adequate training. Without training,
you can’t expect employees to know what your policies
are, much less follow them. A commitment to training in
an area involving legal compliance is a necessity. Furthermore,
training must be followed by testing. Some employers train
employees by sending out DVDs or videotapes and requiring
that the employees certify that they have watched the DVDs
or tapes. This type of training presents a problem. First,
you can never be sure that the employees have watched the
DVDs or tapes. Second, even if they have watched the DVDs
or tapes, you have no idea as to whether the employee understood
the policy described.
One time training followed by one time testing
is better than no testing, but not much better. The employees
the training material and assuming they understand, they
pass the test. Two days later they have forgotten most
of what they have reviewed and six months later they
may not even remember that there was a training program.
training and testing is a necessity.
If a group of approximately 150 theatre
managers can report by 98 percent vote that their companies
for dealing with unruly or disruptive patrons, the
message is loud and clear. The industry must improve its
and testing programs.