Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Starbucks Model of Training

Barista training includes(included):
  • First shift in store with manager (or learning coach) getting a store tour, doing a first coffee tasting, being introduced to the learning materials, etc.
  • Second shift (sometimes first) is The Starbucks Experience class, usually taught at the Regional Training center (but in ND, we were a remote market, and I taught this class for all new hires in Grand Forks and Fargo in my store). Generally, the class had at least four new hires (in remote areas) on up to about twenty (my SE class when I was hired had about twenty participants). This class is amazing - it goes through basic learning on the company history and culture, utilizes some wonderful videos from the various leaders in Starbucks, talks about the strong corporate social responsibility programs that Starbucks has in place, and gives some great info on Starbucks coffee - how and where it was grown, how it's harvested and roasted, what Starbucks does for its farmers, etc. This class was really well created, and I know firsthand how inspiring it was for me. That's why, when I was a store manager, I pushed to be the one to be leading this class for our new partners. That passion our regional trainer had instilled in me during my first class carried on through the entire five years I was there, and I hope that in turn, my legacy as the lead for that training is just as good.
  • Training booklet (this was revamped several times during my course at Starbucks, the most recent incarnation in 2009, when I left, was a series of several smaller workbooks). These covered things from bar training to coffee history, company practices to customer service, etc. They were self-guided modules, utilizing all the resources at the store (our binders about coffee, equipment maintenance, duty roster, etc). The learning coach/manager would check in at the end of each module.
  • Learning coach. This was a partner who had shown a strength and passion for training and teaching. I became a learning coach before I was a shift supervisor. In my stores, I never promoted anyone to a shift supervisor who hadn't been a learning coach already - I wanted leaders in my store who could train and teach, since in a manager's absence, the shift supervisors were in charge. If your leader cannot train and teach well, you've got a problem.
  • Training tools: Drink Dice - these were little dice that you could roll, and they'd come up with a size, iced or hot, a beverage, a syrup, decaf or regular, etc, and the new barista would have to figure out how to write and say that particular combination. Cappuccino training cup - this was a clear tumbler with line markings delineating what the milk and foam ratio should be for a grande cappuccino (and latte). Because a cappuccino should be a free-poured beverage (NO SPOON!!), baristas needed to learn exactly how much milk to measure into a pitcher, how much to aerate it to create the right amount of foam, and then test out their skills. By putting a couple pumps of raspberry syrup in the bottom of the tumbler, the milk would be tinted pink when poured. As soon as the barista finished steaming the milk, she'd pour it directly into the tumbler to the fill line (16 oz, with enough syrup in the bottom to simulate the shots). As the milk and foam separated, it would become clear just how close to perfect she'd come. The perfect cappuccino (not wet or dry, unless custom ordered that way) was fifty/fifty milk and foam. In that clear tumbler, the milk part was darker pink, thanks to the syrup, and the foam part was lighter pink. If the separation wasn't right at the line marked on the cup, you could tell whether you'd foamed it too much - too dry - or too little - too wet.
  • Coffee and Tea passports: These were small books just the right size to fit into their apron pockets, and within them were pages for the coffee stamps of each Starbucks coffee and room to write descriptions, impressions, etc. Each page featured information about that particular coffee blend - where the beans came from, what the particular aromas and taste notes were, etc. Same for the teas. Partners were expected to finish these within an allotted amount of time - and then continuously re-explore them as their coffee tasting abilities matured.
  • Green apron book: this was a small booklet meant to fit in the pocket of the apron that outlined the Five Ways of Being (Be Genuine, Be Considerate, Be Welcoming, Be Knowledgeable, and Be Involved. And the customer service part was Connect, Discover, and Respond. This was an amazing booklet, and I've found the ways of being to actually be more useful to me in my everyday life than almost any other life advice I've been given. (here's a summary which is cute, because they adapted it for blogging:http://www.thebloggersbulletin.c...)
  • Back of house computer training modules: these covered things like the POS system, some general coffee knowledge, etc.
  • Lots of hands-on practice: Fully half the training hours were for practice shifts, where either the new barista or his/her learning coach was not scheduled as coverage (one of them would be extra coverage, so they could work together). This way, the new barista could actually practice what she needed to do with her learning coach at her side to assist, coach, and give lots of on-the-spot recognition. We utilized a Tell, Show, Do process, where tell was either from the learning modules in books or on the pc, show was with the learning coach demonstrating, and do was when they'd do it with their coaches beside them.
  • Barista certification: at the end of the training plan, the baristas were certified by the ASM or SM. Certification touched on all facets of learning, and there was a special part for bar training (which included writing/calling drinks correctly, correctly crafting key beverages, measured by weight, temperature, etc).
  • Ongoing training: included things like store meetings to roll out big changes or prepare the team for special promotional times - holiday/summer/etc, updated worksheets or booklets for changing policies or recipes for partners to be given time to read and complete, and frequent on-the-spot coaching and touchbases.
  • Movin' on up: Of course, variations of this training applied as you moved on up in Starbucks too. Starbucks has, by far, one of the very best training programs I've ever experienced or heard of, and it's a key, I believe to its success. When executed properly, it was impactful and empowering.

I was asked to clarify about the coffee masters (the partners you see in black aprons). These are partners who have met certain prerequisites (time with company, demonstration of knowledge and passion for coffee, etc) and gone through extensive extra training to become a coffee master. There used to be a limit on how many each store could have (generally by volume - the stores I worked at were allowed between one and four, then they dismissed that limit, and we had up to seven at a time), since it took extra training time, and the coffee masters were supposed to be the leaders and champions of all things coffee (quality, knowledge, etc). I cannot recall now exactly how much extra training time we were given, but I know it always took us longer than the time given to complete all extra training modules and activities. It ended with the district coffee master lead coming to do coffee master certification with the prospective coffee master, and that included the PCM hosting a coffee seminar in the store (giving a short 15-20 minute little presentation and tasting of their choice - paired with a pastry or sometimes with something brought in from home - I did coffee & cheeses/cheesecake), then taking the certification "test," which was basically in discussion/dialogue form between the two (the lead and the new coffee master). There were certain questions you had to answer, information you should know, etc, but like everything with Starbucks, it was also very personal. At my certification, we discussed some of the things I'd learned, what I felt most passionate about (for me it was really all about the farms and origins), and how I'd leverage this new role and knowledge to grow our team and customers' knowledge and passion for coffee. 

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