How can having a Starbucks LATTE with your team members can keep them happy and engaged?
Keeping employees engaged and motivated isn’t always easy. If you hold a high-level position, having the responsibility to make sure everything goes well for the company, but also for the people you’re accountable for, makes you often focus in more practical stuff, neglecting in this way focusing on activities that are connected with satisfying your team members’ emotional needs to keep them happy and engaged. This is already an issue when they’re in the office, but it may become a bigger one now that your team works from home, because of covid-19, and feelings like stress, isolation, confusion, insecurity hit strongly their morale.
When leaders ask me how to handle this difficult task with employees’ engagement, I suggest they make it a habit once a week and set some time to have a Starbucks LATTE with each one of their direct reports and advise them to do the same with their direct reports and so on, till this is implemented to all their company’s teams. They react by looking at me surprised and they ask me “Can a cup of Starbucks coffee make employees happy? Is that what you suggest?”
Actually, no! Starbucks LATTE is a method used in Starbucks for customer service recovery and it stands for:
Listen to the customer
Acknowledge the problem/situation
Take action and solve the problem
Thank the customer
Explain what you did
and it can be implemented with your team members, as well, as your people are your customers internally, and although they might not be always right as regards their complaints and their attitude, they are always important to you and they need to feel your presence and support.
Altering a bit the words the acronym LATTE consists of, you get the following steps to walk with your people in order to start a conversation with them, having in mind that the purpose is to connect with them in an authentic way and find out what’s really important for them right now and see how you can serve them in the best way. So, start by asking them: “How have you been doing this week?” and then pause and:
Listen to your team member
Acknowledge that for her/him what she/he needs to discuss with you is important
Thank her/him for trusting you to share her/his thoughts with you
Take ownership of that part that you can really serve your team member as regards to resolving that issue or obstacle that causes frustration or stress to her/him without overpromising
Encourage her/him to see what’s within her/his control to do about the problem and take action to move forward
I know that sometimes as leader you might feel like a parent, who does everything for her/his family in order to provide as many goods as possible to them and, at the end of the day, they complain about you not spending enough time with them, but making sure you stay connected with your people, especially during these uncertain times of covid-19 pandemic times, is of utmost importance. So, with coffee or without, make sure you’re having a LATTE with each one of them, each week.