Howard Schultz

Why comes before How

Understanding how to accomplish something is an important part of being successful. You won’t go far if you don’t know what you are doing. So first we learn how, then we can succeed, right? Wrong. If you really want to win, you first understand why – the purpose of the something you are doing or learning how to do. Because very little that we do is always easy and you will need to hold on to your why when the how is hard.

“Winners are people with definite purpose in life.”– Denis Waitley

Clarity of purpose is especially important when it’s not just you alone working for success, and this is almost always. For some the identification of the team you are on is obvious, for others it is more nuanced. But for almost everyone, you are relying on others to accomplish their individual parts in order to win. The only way this works if there is alignment on purpose.

When you’re surrounded be people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”– Howard Schultz

A few examples of Why

Music – “Bob Marley is a huge influence…I love the purpose of the songs he writes…It takes your worries away and makes you feel good.” – Cobbie Caillat

Research – “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”– Zora Neale Hurston

Political Leadership – “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”– John F. Kennedy

Art – “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”– Pablo Picasso

We are more likely to win when we keep our focus on why – the purpose – of what we are doing.

Do your employees love your company’s service?

employee experience leads to customer experienceWhy do people love Starbucks? If you have ever received surveys asking you to rate your most recent stop you know what Starbucks thinks is important. There is one question about the product and one about the price, all of the rest of the questions are about the service. Everything from the speed of service, to my favorite – did the employees make the visit special. If you visit the same Starbucks frequently, the employees usually know your name and the drink you order before you tell them – that certainly makes for a special visit. Yes, some people say the cost of a cup of coffee is too high here, but as Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz says, “Cutting prices or putting things on sale is not sustainable business strategy.”

Higher cost with better service – how does Starbucks make this work? It started with the predecessor company to what we now know as Starbucks, Il Giornale Coffee Company. In his 1986 letter to employees Schultz outlined how a focus on service for the employees would lead to a focus on service for the customers.

“We believe in hiring exceptional people who are willing to work for exceptional results. In exchange, we are committed to the development of our good people by identifying, cultivating, training, rewarding, promoting those individuals who are committed to moving our company forward.”

I summarize it like this, “Customers are willing to invest in your company when they receive great service from your employees. Employees are willing to serve your customers when they receive great investment from your company.”

Here are the three ways you should invest in service of your employees to bring about great customer service:

Serve them. The leaders job is first and foremost to take care of their employees so they can take care of the customers. How do you do that? Talk with them, coach them, mentor them, invest your knowledge wisdom and time into them. This is the best way.

“We built the Starbucks brand first with our people, not with customers. Because we believed the best way to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers was to hire and train great people, we invested in employees.” – Howard Schultz

Support them. Give them what they need. Anticipate and deliver what you think they need. Ask and then deliver what you know they need. Think of the employee experience as they deliver the customer experience.   What do they need to make their job more productive and more enjoyable?

“You can’t expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your customers if you don’t exceed the employees’ expectations of management.” – Howard Schultz

Share with them. With service and support of the employees you can expect to see the results in the success of the company. Make sure you share that success. While every company is different in its means and methods of sharing, this is an important motivator. At Starbucks, employees are called Partners. Each year most Partners receive restricted stock called Bean Stock.

“Success is best when it is shared. Every time we raise value for a shareholder, we raise value for our people.” – Howard Schultz

Here are a few facts on the results of this service to employees:

Starbucks is the fifth most admired company in the world, according to Fortune magazine, and is the number one company worldwide in the food service industry.

  • Starbucks is ranked in the top 50 best companies to work for by Glassdoor.
  • Starbucks stock is up 17,300 percent since it went public in 1992.
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