How Starbucks Helped Its Employees and Customers Through the Recent Sharemarket Chaos

Millions of people and businesses have been impacted, directly or indirectly, by the recent stockmarket drops in China and elsewhere. It is a cause of concern with over $1 trillion being wiped from Asian markets recently, the Dow Jones Industrial Average being sent plunging, as well as in other markets.

Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz decided to do something about it. He proceeded to address some major concerns – not directly to customers, but rather, to his employees (these are known as “partners” in Starbucks parlance).

All 190,000 of them.

Here is the brief memo that appeared in the Washington Post.

To: Starbucks partners; managing directors for company-operated and joint venture markets
Date: August 24, 2015

Re: Message from Howard: Leading Through Turbulent Times

Dear Partners,

During our 23-year history as a public company, we have experienced–and successfully navigated through–several periods of extreme stock market volatility. And although we are not immune from the global stock market selloff that has now made its way to Wall Street, my confidence in our company and in all of you has never been greater. We are in the midst of another record-setting year – combining our unique “third place” in-store experience with highly relevant coffee and tea innovation and differentiated customer-facing mobile and digital technologies. We are making a profound social impact in the communities we serve around the world, and will continue to do so today and into the future.

Our company has weathered many different types of storms. But our brand has never been stronger or more relevant. Our pipeline of new products and breakthrough innovation has never been more robust. And our long term commitment to delivering an elevated partner experience is unwavering. I can assure you that we will continue to lead and manage the company through the lens of humanity, doing everything we possibly can to continue to make your families proud of our company and all we stand for. You have my word on this.

Today’s financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty both at home and abroad, will undoubtedly have an effect on consumer confidence and perhaps even our customers’ attitudes and behavior. Our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern. Please recognize this and–as you always have–remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day. Let’s be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations.

Our growth plans for the future of our company will not be impacted by the turmoil of the financial markets. We will positively manage through today’s challenging environment just as we have positively navigated through challenging moments in the past. The experience we deliver in our stores, the strength and equity of our brand, and the primary reason for our current and future success is because of all of YOU. I believe in you and have never been prouder to be your partner.

Onward,
Howard

In this brief memo Shultz did a number of things:

  1. Expressed pride and confidence in the achievements of Starbucks and its employees (paragraph 1)
  2. Provided strong, unwavering leadership and personal commitment to all employees (paragraph 2)
  3. Encouraged employees to reach out and show special concern for customers , and that Starbucks earns success from its customers (paragraph 3)
  4. Reassured employees that Starbucks and its employees would weather the storm as it has weathered other storms previously, and that current future success is because of the employees (paragraph 4)

Shultz did this in just 382 words! Brief, concise and effective. If you were a Starbucks partner how would you feel reading this?

My question for you is this: what can you do for your employees and customers to provide them with the support, confidence and direction they need? How will you lead through turbulent times?

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

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