Culture club

I got a coffee today (and yes, I have the Instagram to prove it).  It’s something I do frequently, and I didn’t expect it to be any different to my usual experience: I went into a store I know well – partly because I used to work there – and waited in the queue.  It was slightly chaotic, as it was late lunchtime and fairly busy, plus there was a trainee barista being shown the ropes at the till.  I gave the barista and her coach my order, paid for my drink, said a cheerful hello to a former colleague who was working and proceeded to wait for my coffee.

As I watched the trainee continue to earn her stripes, it struck me: it’s almost ten years since I was in her shoes.  The harsh realisation briefly made me wish there was something stronger than coffee in the cup I was waiting for, but it got me thinking.

I often turn to my experiences in this role when interviewing for new ones or when looking for guidance in a current role.  This could partly be due to the fact that it’s the company I’ve worked with for the longest, but is more likely down to my perception that this is the job in which I received the best training.  Yes, the company’s morals have been called into question within the media, but most of my colleagues during my time within the organisation were fantastic.  They were predominantly people I enjoyed working with, and learned a lot from.  They instilled in me ideals of high standards of satisfaction and efficiency, as well as producing quality products consistently.

Again, most people would disagree with my sentiments – and I’ve certainly experienced a huge variety in the speed, satisfaction and delivery of service when visiting outlets since my departure, which further proves to me how lucky I was – but I saw things from a different perspective whilst I worked there, and have been able to apply my learning to many situations since.  I still look back on many experiences and smile.  There were, of course, bad days in this job too, but time and distance have sharpened my perspective, and I am now able to see the positives of my experience in this role much more clearly than the negatives.  As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I still know people who work within the company and exchange more than a passing hello if I see them again.  During the first week in my current job, I greeted three former customers, none of whom I had seen for years, but all of whom remembered me from my previous role, and were keen to catch up.

Every person I worked with – particularly in the early days of my training – made the effort to answer my stupid questions repeatedly, to teach me how to do my job to perfection, and to prepare me for what I would face when they couldn’t be there to help me.  This may sound dramatic, and in a way it is: the care and attention those people took with something as simple as how to press a few buttons or steam milk has stuck with me.  I’ve seen first-hand the benefit of excellent training, and strive to provide it to other people when asked because, ten years on, I still feel the benefit, and I’d like others to enjoy the same thing.

My job then and my jobs since have been made easier by those who went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and help me improve, and I am very grateful.  Thank you to the dedicated ones.  It’s a shame that not everyone operates in this way.

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