I worked at Starbucks for a relatively long time. What can I say? I need coffee to live and it was a great place to work while I was in school. During my time there, I experienced a lot of personal and professional growth. These are my biggest takeaways:
Anticipate your customer’s needs and then exceed them.
Just by doing small extra things for a customer, you can create a memorable experience. I found that customers became friends through small acts. This connection didn’t just create repeat customers. It created a sense of community.
Don’t ask anyone to do anything you would not be willing to do yourself.
I was familiar with the concept of servant leadership. However, working as a leader behind the line with my baristas really helped make this my favorite leadership style. I found that by saving at least one of the more laborious or detailed tasks for myself I was able to gain and keep the respect of those I supervised. I also began to immediately touch base with everyone on my shift. Whenever they leave I think of one accomplishment I can thank them for.I also had a far better idea of the challenges and opportunities for our business due to a better understanding of the roles of those I was responsible for.
Always continue to develop your knowledge beyond your initial training.
I became known as the coffee and company history expert. I achieved this feat by reading several related books and completing an optional training to become a Starbucks Coffee Master. I found that the outcome , my reputation at Starbucks, far exceeded my effort. A little bit of ambition goes a long way.
Never compromise your principals in the pursuit of profit.
Howard Schultz has said in the past that success is meaningless if you “arrive at the finish line alone.” It’s better to find yourself surrounded by winners at the finish line. At Starbucks the winners aren’t just the shareholders, but also coffee growers, partners (employees), and social/environmental causes.
I learned that it is important to not become shortsighted. Doing the right might not always lead to better quarterly earnings. However some business leadership understand that building a legacy leads to larger profits over time.