The Culture at Starbucks

Organizational culture refers to “a system of shared meaning held by members [of an organization] that distinguishes [it] from other organizations” (Robbins, 2005). In other words, organizational culture is the collection of characteristics and qualities which the employees of an organizations or the organization as a whole, values and consequently seeks to preserve. Robbins 92005) put forward seven basic characteristics which make up an organizational culture. The first of these characteristics is innovation and risk taking which refers to how management allows their employees to take some amount of risk in order to introduce new approaches and methods of work.

Second is attention to detail – which means that a company requires its workers to give their full attention to specifics and the fine points of their jobs, so to speak. The third characteristic of organizational culture is outcome orientation, which indicates that management is not very much into rules and procedures as long as the desired results are accomplished, followed by people orientation which refers to management’s concern with how managerial decisions affect their employees or even their customers base.

This could be taken to mean that no matter how beneficial a decision might be for the organization if such a decision could prove harmful to its employees, it is most likely to be shelved. The fifth characteristic is team orientation – by this Robbins refers to how the organization organizes its activities around work teams instead of encouraging individualism among its employees.

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The cultural characteristic at Starbucks which best appeals to me is the aggressiveness encouraged by management. For a growth-oriented individual, Starbucks is an attractive company to work for because undoubtedly it gives value to employee aggressiveness because it is essentially a growth company. As a matter of fact, aside from being the “first specialty coffee retailer” in the world, Starbucks has more than 8500 branches and franchises in 25 countries around the world (Tripp, L., Siwapiragam, V., Rahim, N., & Horton, E. (2005).

Innovation and risk taking, team orientation, and attention to detail are the other characteristics that make the company appealing. The culture at Starbucks is customer-responsive. It hires service-oriented and friendly employees who are not bound by rigid customer relation rules. The low level of formalization observed by the company allows its employees to adjust to different kinds of customers who come from all walks of life.

This practice could be called empowerment, permitting employees to do what they deem necessary in order to satisfy customer needs. In its customer-responsive culture, Starbucks employees are clearly conscientious in pleasing their customers and are willing to go out of their way just to satisfy the needs of their customers. (Robbins, 2005)

Employees of Starbucks know just what is expected of them. The company wants them to satisfy their customers from the quality of their coffee and other products to the services that they provide. They are committed to this expectation and focus all their efforts in achieving it. This shows that the culture in the company is strong as it is characterized by a “high degree of sharedness and intensity creates an internal climate of high behavioral control.” This expectation, therefore, effectively shapes the behavior of Starbucks employees. (Robbins, 2005)

The Customer Base of Starbucks

The customer base of Starbucks could be described as people who go out to have their snacks or take a cup of coffee outside their homes for different reasons. They could generally be classified into two categories: those who usually hang out with friends to socialize over cups of coffee and slices of sandwiches and those who go out to celebrate special occasions or to treat their visitors and friends to something special. Notwithstanding their category, however, the customers of Starbucks value their money and would want to have their money’s worth – in terms of quality, cleanliness, and satisfactory customer service. It is the company’s primary objective, therefore, to meet all of these customer requirements.

Customer Service Standards for Starbucks

People who are going out for their favorite blend of coffee whether habitually or occasionally expect not only excellent coffee but commendable service in return for their money. For Starbucks, therefore, customer service starts with its product. For this reason, the first concern that should be addressed by the company is product quality, specifically its coffee. It should therefore exert every effort to achieve the highest possible product quality at all times. Management could make this possible by exercising due diligence in ensuring that only excellent coffee beans are brewed. This is the only way to ensure that their customers keep coming back.

After product quality, the company should take into account the problem of cleanliness and sanitation. The dining room, rest rooms, and kitchen should be immaculately clean. Customers should be fully convinced that they are being served with clean food prepared in a sanitary manner and handled only by sterile workers. To this end, it would be very effective if customers are allowed to observe how their coffee and sandwiches are being prepared by clean-cut and healthy-looking personnel. Customers also prefer to eat in clean surroundings. Starbucks management should therefore see to it that every item in the dining room – from the furniture to the tableware and cutlery – are spotlessly clean with no insects buzzing around while they eat.

The final customer service concern should be the quality of service. The sales staff, the food servers, and the maintenance people should be in clean uniform and should convey an image of clean living and over-all health. It would not be advisable for management to employ people who look as if they are indulging in substance abuse during their spare time. Employees should likewise be courteous and polite at all times, making it mandatory for management to focus employee selection on these aspects.

These standards are meant to capture customer confidence and establish a management-customer relationship based on trust. If customers are satisfied that management is doing everything in order to safeguard their health and well-being by preparing the food carefully and in a sanitary manner, providing them with a sterile dining area, manned by neat and courteous employees who see to their every need while dining, then the company should have achieved a good foundation for a profitable business.

Reference

Robbins, S.P. (2005). Organizational Behavior, Eleventh Edition. Prentice-Hall.

Tripp, L., Siwapiragam, V., Rahim, N., & Horton, E. (2005). Project V – Industrial to

Information Model of an Enterprise. Retrieved September 7, 2007, from

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