Lessons from Starbucks

The well-known high street coffee shop, Starbucks, recently hit the news for its reaction to a racist incident in one of its US stores as it decided to close the entire business for a day to give training to every employee.

So what did they do and did it work?

The company used the day to show training videos to their employees. The videos included appearances from the famous rapper Common and documentary maker Stanley Nelson, who received the national humanities medal from President Obama.

Despite hiring big names to deliver the training, it is reported that a number of Starbucks' employees weren’t impressed with the training they received.

They felt that the videos missed the mark and the training didn’t come in the right form, as the videos simply talked at them. They identified that they would have preferred the opportunity to have a more interactive, hands-on training session where there was the opportunity to discuss the issues with their colleagues.

As one employee said “It’s easy sitting through something and saying you learned something than actually learning something from the course.”

And that quote sums up the problem with passive training techniques - people may enjoy watching but for learning transfer they need to be actively involved.

I’m sure that Starbucks has made a good start by using these videos, but their employees’ reactions show that a single, passive training method is unlikely to have a lasting effect.

Let us hope they now start to back this up with some admittedly less glamorous, but proven, interactive training sessions!