Monday, June 23, 2014

The Father-like boss

                              The  father-like- Boss

In 2007, the time arrived where my family reached a place of my needing to go to work after being a stay at home mom for 5 years. Which in essence, had been our whole marriage. For me, the idea of going to work was intimidating. After all, I had no degree and I'd been a stay at home mom and, quite honestly, I really had never worked in the "real world". I pretty much felt like I had no ability to really do anything. In the process of researching where I could go to work (evening/weekend only because of the kids being so young still) a new Starbucks was opening. Someone with whom my husband worked at the time knew the manager of the Starbucks in the area and connected me to the process and the rest became history...
  That manager was not the hiring manager, but she knew the hiring manager for where I was applying, and simply helped me know what was happening with the process. I filled out my application and an interview was set. 
 I nervously went into this interview. I was young, inexperienced, insecure, and quite honestly, scared. I loved coffee, though, and I enjoyed people, so I took those two things with me and waited my turn for an interview. I'd quite literally never been through an interview process before. I was 25.  I sipped my caramel macchiato and watched as the manager interviewed a person ahead of me. 
  My turn came for the interview and I sat in front of the manager. 
   His name was Jim and he put me at ease very quickly. The interview was fairly short and overall easy-going. Different from how I expected. He must have seen something in me that I did not myself recognize, because Jim hired me on the spot. I have not had an interview experience like that since. 
 Jim became a father like figure to me. Training at Starbucks was not easy. The first weeks were pretty  rough and intimidating. But Jim was always encouraging  me. I can remember taking my barista "test" with Jim, and when I messed up, he was not condescending or rude, but helpful and guiding. He blew the steam wand out, showed me  some tricks and we moved on. Needless to say, I passed that barista "exam".  (and continued as a barista, of course, for another 7 years).
 My first day in the brand new store we were opening, I burned my hand so badly, but not understanding the process of how incidents like that go, I kept quiet, wrapped it up and moved on. (Um, hindsight, that was a very bad idea, as the burn was pretty severe on 3 of my fingers. The burn was due to an improper function in the new machine, but I was rookie and had no idea.) Somehow Jim, as any good manager would, came to know about this burn and inquired about it. Not in a condescending manner, but in a kind, caring manner. Then proceeded to teach me the process of what should be done if that were ever to occur again.
   I ran into some conflict with a shift manager there a couple of times. I cannot remember her name or even the circumstances. But what I do remember is that Jim handled that as well. Like a father to me in some ways, Jim really took me under his wing and taught me much and watched out for my well being, without playing "favorite" to me. Jim pushed and encouraged my ability in interacting with customers and even said he knew I could succeed greatly within the store. He put me at ease. 
  In the first weeks of working for Jim, my husband lost his job unexpectedly. In that process, Jim treated me more as as daughter than an employee. He genuinely cared about what was happening with me and my family and what was to come. Little did I know that what would be to come would be a move to Ohio, a move away from Jim's store.  A drastic change for our lives altogether. Being a new Starbucks employee, it was not typical to be able to transfer to another store, but my situation was unique and Jim helped make that transfer happen for me. Jim even gave my family gifts upon our leaving Florida.
  So Jim was my first introduction to bosses in the work world, and I could not have asked for a more kind introduction. Hard working and value driven, he treated me more like a daughter than an employee. He was the first to recognize the potential I held (it just took me up to the years of the Chef to embrace that....) and he was the first to push me towards better goals, even if our time working together was very brief. He offered me tools of success to walk into the working world from the every day life of a stay at home mom. That transition was tough, but Jim helped it come with more ease. He taught me a bit about doing things I once thought myself incapable of. And I attribute much of my success as a barista in 7 years time to the beginning days of that father like manager I once had.....
  Sometimes you never know how or who you might touch, in your job, as a manager or as the lowest on the totem pole. Jim likely had no idea the impact he placed on the future that laid ahead of me, simply by starting with a smile.

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