Culture | What every HR leader can learn from the former CEO of Starbucks

What every HR leader can learn from the former CEO of Starbucks

Let’s start with a question: “How much do you care?”

Is it a little? A lot? Not enough? More than you’re given credit for? How about ‘more than others think possible or necessary?’

Because that’s how much Jim Donald, the former CEO of Starbucks, cares. In fact, it’s his life motto, and caring, he argued during his guest appearance on The WFM Show, is what sets the best HR leaders and businesses apart.

In an episode full of heart-warming, inspiring and uplifting stories, the man who was named as one of the top 25 CEOs in the world by The Best Practice Institute, shared the insights behind his legendary success that saw him lead companies like Starbucks, Pathmark Supermarkets and Extended Stay Hotels.

Here’s what every HR leader can learn from him:

1. Everything starts with caring

Following on from his motto, Jim says by creating a culture of caring, you speak to the heart rather than the head. This creates a bond and an emotional connection which keeps employees engaged.

Caring, you think, sounds easy, but as with any business objective, you’ll need the strategy and tools to successfully make it part of your business. With the array of digital tools now at your disposal, showing your employees you care is easier than ever.

Anna-Karin Neuman, HR manager at NSP (the largest franchisee of Burger King and KFC in the Nordics with over 2,500 employees) says: “We send out daily surveys through Quinyx, our workforce management app, to see how our employees are feeling. There’s much more engagement because they use the WFM app daily on their mobiles, it gives us much more flexibility and allows us to dive deeper into the areas where we really need to.”

2. Ask more questions and listen harder

Jim says every single day we should all be as curious, scared, excited and full of the possibilities of life as we are on the first day of college. If you do this, you ask more questions, you listen harder, and you learn more.

This mindset should also be applied when interacting with your employees. Digital tools can be an immense help when it comes to listening to your employees, successfully uncovering their wants and needs.

Chief HR Officer at NSP, Fredrik Moser, adds: “Every employee is so important to us. So we‘re really eager to hear their thoughts and their input. And the Quinyx survey tool is a great way of making them heard - I would have loved that when I was working in the restaurant many years ago! Our employees are the ones working in the business, they know the business and they create our results, so it's really important to be connected to them and listen to their thoughts and input.”

3. Encourage people to take risks

Jim forged a reputation in the US for being a leader who encouraged his employees to take risks. In three years' time, the majority of the workforce will be made up of Millennials and Gen Z. More than any group before, this is a generation who wants to be heard and valued.

Jim argues that for this to happen, they have to be encouraged to take risks and given the freedom to fail.

“People don’t want to be a headcount,” says Jim. “They want to make their heads count. When you can create this culture of caring you're telling people, it's okay to make mistakes and how much more can you show you care than that?”

For more insights, stories and inspiration, you can watch the full episode here and you can find out more how digital tools like Quinyx can revolutionise your employee engagement here.

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Quinyx is a cloud-native, mobile-first workforce management solution that simplifies scheduling, time reporting, communication, task management, budgeting and forecasting, thanks to AI-driven scheduling automation. Through advanced and flexible features, Quinyx helps more than 850 companies around the world improve efficiency, engage employees, comply with regulations and reduce labour costs. Today, Quinyx helps some of the world’s biggest businesses save time and money, boost productivity and enjoy work.