It’s the people who make a company

I learned an important lesson early on in my working life from T Wilson, the man who arguably saved Boeing from financial ruin in the 70’s.  He told his direct reports, as they are often called now, that their job was to make sure that the guys who were actually doing the work, that they guys on the line like the engineers and mechanics, were supported so they could get their job done. Period. And, if the line wasn’t getting it done, then those important “suits” who were in his office were to blame. Not the people bucking rivets.

So, when people talk about how they hate big companies, (and I do it too,) I wish they would think about all the people who work there. Not the policies or the actions of the management, but also of the people doing the real work.

I am drinking lots of coffee right now, as I look for cups. (See my other posts about coffee.) And, I thought I would share what I saw the other day at the mall.

Starbuck’s heart

Much to the delight and animation of the customer, the manager of a local starbucks disappeared, to then reappear with a cardboard box and a tape gun.  He then proceeded to tape the carrying tray to the man and his chair.

How curious, I thought. It was obvious that it was to support the drink he had just purchased, and it appeared like a very ingenious way to have a drink. But, what was curious was that this man from Starbucks took the time to use his creativity and ingenuity to build a tray for a customer. He clearly enjoyed the task, and was 100-percent engaged in the process. In turn, he gave the customer great service. He did not rush, he focused on the customer alone, period.

Today, all to often you see or experience friendly but unengaged service. Though it’s nice that someone is friendly, what you really want is for them to care about you and about what they are selling. Or, to just really care about anything at all. Like the waiters in LA. You know that what they are wanting is their big break. You understand that suffering is fuel for passion, and that interacting with people is their fodder for portraying life. And, thus, they become engaged with you.

I visited one of the two “stealth” Starbucks on Seattle’s Capitol Hill today. It and the other stealth store have gotten bad reviews lately. Not for the service or for the coffee, but for the fact that Starbucks is trying to change. What I found was a nice coffee atmosphere filled with many young computer users and a mix of older people. Some having a snack and others engrossed in heartfelt conversations.

I don’t think that anyone was unhappy with the warm atmosphere or the quality of their cup of liquid. What I saw at the mall reminded me not to judge because it is easy, but to care because it is better.

And the man in the wheelchair who was set up with the box? I suspect he was pretty happy with the service, the way service should be.

eat simply live well

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