Smell the Coffee: A Couple of HR Observations

by Michael Haberman on March 24, 2008 · 0 comments


Must have been a tough day today, perhaps due to a 3-day weekend for some, because at least two blogs had a coffee theme. (Ah coffee.. that aromatic nectar of wakefulness).

Kris Dunn, The HR Capitalist, weighed in on the Starbucks story about a court decision requiring Starbucks to pay baristas $100 million in back tips and penalities, for letting shift supevisors share in the tips customers put in the tip jar. Apparently that is a very big “no-no” in California (and now will embolden other employees in other states to bring the same lawsuit.) Starbucks has announced they will appeal the judges “excessive” judgement. However, I am sure we will see some fundamental changes in the way compensation is handled around Starbucks, win or lose. Personally, I never used the tip jar often, unless I got exceptional service, and I mean exceptional. One could argue that employees want tips then they should be willing to take a tipped wage of $2.13 an hour as well. I doubt many would be willing to make that trade.

The other blog with a coffee theme was that of Slacker Manager, Phil Gerbyshak. Phil gives a Monday Morning Management tip, which is: “Instead of having coffee alone, every day this week take a member of your team to coffee with you and find out a little more about how each associate on your team feels things are going. Start with the most junior member and work your way to the most senior.” Great idea! In fact, if there is a Starbucks nearby, walk them over and spend sometime getting to know them.

This method is also good for getting to fellow executives and a great way to expand your “network” within the company. If you don’t want to ask them out, then bring coffee to them. The point is that making allies and friends within the organization is VERY important to an HR professional and that can be done most effectively by taking a little bit of social time. It does not always have to be business. You are in the business of dealing with humans so put that social skill to work. (And by the way, Starbucks does serve other things than coffee and you will not be automatically be labled a snob. Unless of course you order a venti, no-whip, three shot, double-dipped, pat your head three times latte. Personally, I drink the coffee.)

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