One company which builds the inherent value of team-building right into their reputation is Starbucks. Starbucks is known for valuing not only their employees but the manner in which their employees work together; this is an aspect of the company which has long been built into the company image.
The First Step of Team-Building: Valuing Employees
One of the ways that employees are rewarded for their teamwork starts with the way in which the employees are valued, regarded and treated. "Howard Schultz of Starbucks believes that teamwork is so critical to the company's success that employees (called, not coincidentally, 'partners' in Starbucks-speak) spend several days after getting hired learning how to be part of the Starbucks team. And Schultz tells all new employees (about 500 a month), via video, how happy he is to have them on board. Even part-time workers repeatedly hear how much they are valued during the 24 hours of training they get in their first 80 hours of employment" (Strauss, 2002). This is the absolute foundational element of team-building. Before any sort of team-building can begin, each member of the eventual team needs to understand that they are a foundational aspect of the entire company and completely valued beyond a shadow of a doubt. This valuation of individual team members needs to occur before employees are even rewarded through compensation, the sharing of profits or other benefits. Forbes consistently singles out Starbucks each year in its well-known list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" and so much of it has to do with this strong valuation of individual employees. It starts as many have noted via the fact that the company refers to its employees as partners, even though none of the employees actually embody the traditional sense of that word in any real manner; however, the reality is that such a word is loaded and can contribute whole-heartedly to company loyalty.
More importantly, at Starbucks, "…they offer an enviable benefits package, one inspired by the childhood of Chairman Howard Schultz. As a boy, he watched his father work low-paying jobs and retire with little to show for his life, and Schultz wanted something different for employees of his company. The result is a benefits package given to employees who work a minimum of 20 hours per week that includes health, medical, dental and vision plans, a 401k, and access into Bean Stalk, the company's employee stock option plan. If that weren't already enough, those benefits extend to the opposite and same-sex spouses of these employees" (Bonander, 2012). It's no surprise that the company is able to inspire such loyalty and able to engage in such successful team-building. The compensation programs are in place to reward partners not just for working 20 hours per week, but in working 20 hours per week in a manner which inspires -- in a manner which embodies the teamwork and cohesion which is so important for each employee to engage in.
These types of compensation are in place to ensure that employees understand that they are all part of the same team, they are all valuable and that they understand that their good welfare is desired and ensured. In this same respect, Starbucks allocates stock dividends to all employees, so that the members of the Starbucks team is able to receive benefits from the dividends: this makes employees more receptive and motivated to earning more profits (Caseson, 2011). This means that employees feel valued and that Starbucks are the most important asset of all (Caseson, 2011).
Team Performance Criteria
One manner in which teamwork is able to thrive at Starbucks is as a result of the fact that the channels for communication are wide open and well-used. The structure for beneficial communication is already in place: all employees have to do is just take advantage of it as it's already there. Starbucks helps Team performance stay at high levels of excellence because it values both communication and labor. Thus, team members are constantly being evaluated and having their performance assessed in a beneficial manner. "For example, managers plan the working hours per workers and arrange the schedule of time off, according to the workers' wants in order to meet their requirements. There are interviews weekly to see what employees' needs are. The partners have the right to figure out what is the best policy for them, and the directors show a respect for each suggestion" (Caseson, 2011). This is because Starbucks realizes that if each employee has a more active role in making and developing plans, they'll be more active in working to achieve their goals and the company goals: in order for either of these elements to be achieved, there needs to be strong and pervasive communication between all members of staff (Caseson, 2011). Furthermore, there is no limitation placed on the personal opinions of employees, something which is dramatically different from the way most multi-million dollar companies are run.
Teamwork is evaluated and strengthened in a manner so that good relationships between managers and employees is harnessed. The use of the title "partner" is just one small step in the manner that bureaucracy is narrowed. Furthermore, the number of employees that are working at any given Starbucks is usually just three to six: "Such a small size helps staff get to know each other easily and deeply. Suggestions and complaints made by employees are treated of equal importance. In the same way, they have a right to participate in the process of revising company policies. In that case, each staff member thinks that they also play an important role in company operating, and they jointly work out the direction of Starbucks. All this gives employees respect and a sense of participation" (Caseson, 2011). Thus, the sense of assessment and evaluation becomes on-going and partners are reminded of the importance of their place within the company at all times, and how important it is for them to constantly engage in meaningful dialogue with one another. This aspect is strengthened by the fact that all of the profits of every Starbucks are contributed to public service, which means that the members of staff have the strong sense that their work is being instilled with meaning. This means that each employee feels as though what they do for Starbucks connects directly with what they're doing for society.
Teamwork as an Ongoing Process
As Starbucks clearly understands, teamwork is a process that is never stagnant, but is one which needs to keep evolving and developing or else people will become bored or lethargic from a lack of stimulation. Moreover, great teams start with fantastic leaders; these leaders need to be both introspective and open to new ideas; they also have to be very open to sitting down with customers and learning how their company can improve (Groth, 2012). The leaders are really the first piece of the puzzle and are the ones who need to know how to develop cohesive teams that work well. As Howard Schultz, one of the original founders of Starbucks, has said, "First, you must have a sense of purpose…That's what Steve Jobs taught me. The belief that what we are doing will make a difference in the world. Great teams understand the forces with and against them -- what stands in the way" (Groth, 2012). One thing that Starbucks truly and innately understands is that great teams have a strong component of trust: most of the time this high level of trust didn't just develop out of thin air: the team leaders and managers took the time to build it as they knew that the best teams perform with strong levels of trust between people (Groth, 2012). For some companies and workers, figuring out how to effectively work with another person can…