2.2 Interview with Starbucks HQ Manager
Hello, I'm here today with Angela Webster, Director of Human Resources at Starbucks Coffee company. Sure, so I think the persuasion in addition to the things that we've already discussed being aware of how you manage and make decisions can be a really useful data point. Share the bad news right up front, and then be prepared to follow up immediately with either a solution or a lesson learned.
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Hello, I’m here today with Angela Webster, Director of Human Resources at Starbucks Coffee company. Welcome Angela.
Thanks for making time for us today. Tell us a little bit about what it is that you do.
Sure. I work at the corporate offices of Starbucks, which is located in Seattle, Washington. And I work with a really diverse group of leaders up through the executive level.
My management experience both at Starbucks and in private organizations. I’ve had teams up between two and ten direct reports with an extended larger teams. And currently I lead a team of four HR professionals.
Oh, great. Well we’re really looking forward to hearing some of your insights today, and since you do lead a team, if you’d be willing to share some of your own preferences around communication at the end of our session today. I think that would be really interesting to hear about as well.
I’d be happy to.
Great, thank you. I’d like to first ask you a few questions about your experiences with managers. One of the things we’ve been touching on is understanding your manager’s communication preferences to really ensure that your message is heard. In your experience what communication approaches or techniques do the managers you work with tend to appreciate the most from their employee? The managers that I work with as are all managers, are extremely busy. And so they really appreciate just checking in and being aware of that. And so before having a conversation just asking, is now an appropriate time or should I should schedule time to come back later?
The other thing is that managers are very different in terms of the level of detail that they like.
Some managers like just bullet points, and others require more information and more context. And so, being aware of that is also really important.
Great. Excellent. So, scheduling and a level of detail. Sounds like good tips and techniques. Do you find that the managers’ preferences differ, based on whether employees are having in person communication with their managers or virtual communication? Well, I think the fundamentals are the same, whether you’re communicating in-person or virtually. But specifically with virtual communication, I think there are a couple of additional things to look out for. So one is place or location.
So choosing a really appropriate location to be having the communication interaction, and so that might not be whilst you’re standing in line at the store.
Or driving your car, for example.
The other thing as well to be aware of is with a virtual communication, they’re not good at picking up on those non-verbal cues.
So being aware of that and then checking it a little bit more and asking questions. So have I provided you with enough information? Do you have additional questions? That can be really effective also.
Sure. Great, that makes sense. So place and being aware and mindful of the fact that you might not be getting some of those nonverbal cues. That leads great into my next question, we’ve also been talking about verbal communication versus nonverbal communication. I’d like to touch a little bit on nonverbal communication. Can you tell us a little bit about what nonverbal subtleties or nuances employees might be able to pick up from their manager to help provide them with some clues about how to either or respond to manager communication or initiate communication with them.
Yes, I think I have some examples of that, both from interviews, and also from sitting through presentations with employees as well.
So let’s say for example you’re sharing a presentation with your manager. You’re going through the points on the first slide and you notice your manager has already skipped to the back of the deck.
Might be an indication that you’ve provided too much information or too much detail.
So I would recommended saying something along the lines of. Okay, let’s go together now to the final recommendation slide, we’ll go through that together and then I’ll leave you with a stack that you can go through at your leisure and you can come back to me if you have questions. the other thing to be aware of is eye contact, so I think eye contact is a really good indication if your manager is engaged with you in the conversation. Lack of eye contact could indicate that you have lost your manager, perhaps, in the conversation. So just check in and ask. I’ve provided all the information up to this point. Do you have any questions? Lack of eye contact could also indicate that your manager’s distracted.
So may you see them glancing at their watch or glancing at the door. Maybe schedule, for them, is a priority at that moment in time. And so, again, checking in. I know that you’re really busy today. Would there be a better time for me to come back and finish this conversation?
Great. These are great suggestions. Thank you. I’m going to change gears just a little bit and talk a little bit about obstacles that employees sometimes encounter when they are communicating with their managers. Can you offer any tips or suggestions around how employees can most effectively communicate when they are needing to persuade their manager or perhaps when they need to deliver bad news?
Sure, so I think the persuasion in addition to the things that we’ve already discussed being aware of how you manage and make decisions can be a really useful data point. So do they like a lot facts and data?
Or do maybe people implications weight more heavily for them? That can really help you to decide if you’re having a communication, what do you lead with? Do you lead with maybe the cost savings of the project that you’re recommending? Well maybe you should lead with the implications or benefits to employee morale. And then, for bad news, I think that really, just get straight to the point.
Share the bad news right up front, and then be prepared to follow up immediately with either a solution or a lesson learned. And I think it’s really important when sharing bad news to take accountability and not to look to pass blame to others.
Great, thank you. Really useful information. Thank you. You’ve offered some really practical tips that I think we can take away and apply really nicely with the module and some of the things we’ve been talking about. It while managers really vary in their preferences it would be useful to also hear about your own perspective. Could you offer a couple of your own communication preferences.
Yeah, for sure. For me there’s really one key thing that I really appreciate and I find very effective when my employees are, are communicating with me. And that’s really about being very intentional and sharing up from what purpose of the communication. So is someone coming just to inform me about a situation? Are they actually looking to meet for ideas, advice or suggestions? Or are they just coming to vent about a particular situation?
So framing that up really helps me to be able to listen really effectively and then to be able to provide the most helpful and appropriate response.
Great, thank you. While managers do have a wide range in their preferences hearing that one data point is really useful in the context of everything else that we’ve discussed. Angela, thanks so much for making time to talk with us today, I really appreciate your insights and information.
You’re very welcome.
And wherever you are enjoy your day or evening.
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