On Tuesday, May 29, Starbucks closed more than 8,000 stores to train employees and “begin a new chapter” in the company’s history. I’m a star club member (or whatever they call it when you overuse Starbucks as I do), so I received the email from Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz. I applaud the effort, and think the company’s heart is in the right place. I’m sure they have data on how many people they trained as well as pre-post quantitative studies on the impact.
While admittedly not scientific, I took a different approach. I talked with baristas and asked them what the training was like. They said they watched some videos on iPads and answered some questions based on canned scenarios. Some of them had “discussions”. No one seemed to really care. I remember being 16 and watching a training video at Hardee’s on an old television and scratchy VHS tape. The technology might be improved, but the result seemed the same. Nothing. I learned what I needed to learn from my manager and interactions with my peers. I’m not saying there is no place for formalized training, and perhaps Starbucks has a comprehensive, “human” plan to train its staff. Perhaps there was much more to this, and the dozen or so people I talked to just hadn’t been a part of it. I hope so. Because taking a class on an iPad seems to me like they’re just hoping the issue goes away.
Photo credit: MPR