Today I was at Starbucks, waiting for my Grande Chai Latte. I snagged the last ginger molasses cookie, and was looking forward to enjoying my hot beverage.
I waited and waited. I watched with interest as the efficient barista made the drinks. I noticed the line at the cash growing, and the doubling of the empty cups waiting to be filled. I felt a little anxiety bubbling up inside of me.
Hmm…I waited patiently. I heard the short middle aged woman named Sue be called. Her equally short and middle aged friend was called too. Then L got her Vanilla Latte with non-fat milk and another guy (let’s call him Rob) picked up his order. I stopped listening for the beverage names and instead started concentrating on this young barista.
He was probably in his early twenties (if that) and he was not stopping. He had a rhythm to his work. I imagined that his arms get quite a workout from the coffee making machine.
I thought about how lots of well-educated people end up as baristas at Starbucks (and other purveyors of fine beverages). My youth coaching mind started going. Just look at the skill sets these people are honing at this job:
1) Interpersonal– each one of those baristas had to be polite and outgoing to their clients.
2) Conflict resolution – what the staff must practice when someone sees another person ordering the last of a particular treat (like let’s say the delicious ginger molasses cookie!)
3) Teamwork – if you can work efficiently and effectively with a crew of people in very tight quarters, you are really developing incredible abilities to work as a member of a team.
4) Attention to detail – if they don’t pay attention, they will forget a client’s order or have a mix up so someone expecting their Caramel Brule Latte will unsuspectingly take a sip of someone else’s Peppermint Mocha – which is another area where conflict resolution skills will come in handy…
5) Working under pressure – and keeping your composure – as the line kept growing, I found my anxiety growing with it. The staff however all seemed to keep their positive attitudes and their smiles.
6) Communication – these baristas need to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing. They need to be clear and concise when they speak with each other and when they write your name or initial on your cup, the writing needs to be legible. A messy scrawl simply will not do.
7) Reliability, dependability and punctuality – not technical, but extremely important characteristics. The staff members need to be there – if someone calls in sick, the whole team will be affected. The void is evident, and the customers will feel the lack of staff, and the teammates will have to pick up the slack.
8) Active listening – baristas practice their active listening skills by paying careful attention to the orders they take. If someone orders a Caffee Vanilla Frappucino Blend, they most certainly don’t want a Caffee Frappucino Light Blend.
9) A positive attitude – the baristas seem to demonstrate a happy demeanor regardless of the potentially brusque clients (such as the middle-aged shorties today).
10) Technology – I watched these two women as they used their iphones to pay for their beverages. Today’s baristas need to be able to keep up with the latest technology that is changing the way people pay for their purchases.
So you see, the next time a barista laments their Mc job, they should realize they are creating their career, not just a Vanilla Iced Caffee Cappucino Latte with non-fat milk.
Wishing you a tasty career,