Influencing Group Communications

Before discussing leadership styles and their affects on group communications of a specific company, it is important to first identify the organizational structure of that company. Different organizational structures may lend themselves more toward specific leadership styles then others. “A company’s individual organizational structure is a formal composition of task reporting relationships that allows the company to control, coordinate, and motivate employees so a common goal can be achieved” (George & Jones, 2005, p. 05). Coordinate in this context refers to the communication efforts made between upper management, middle management, site management, and line employees. The Starbucks Corporation is well known for its strong positive culture and a willingness to adapt and change. “Starbucks has rearranged their organizational structure to better accommodate customer satisfaction. The CEO of Starbucks announced expansion of their matrix organizational structure last month, They will operate under four U. S. ivisions including Western/Pacific, Northwest/Mountain, Southeast/Plains and Northeast/Atlantic” (Starbucks Corporation, 2008). This decision was made when Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, returned to the helm as President, CEO, and Chairman. His enthusiasm to bring Starbucks back to its core – all things coffee – and a renewed focus on the customer experience was the driving force behind this reorganization. In one of many e-mails sent to all Starbucks partners, Schultz said, “I pledge to communicate with you about our efforts to improve the currents state of our U.

S. Business, reignite the emotional attachment with our customers and make foundational changes to our business; and I have done so in six previous emails” (Schultz, 2008). “Beginning February 28, 2008, the U. S field organization began transitioning from two divisions to four, with full implementation completed by March 24, 2008 (Schultz, 2008). “One of the major advantages to having this kind of organizational structure is the maximization of communication channels” (George & Jones, 2005, pg. 515).

Because this will create field teams with greater capacity, it will allow the company to align the upper management closer to the customers and the partners. The closer the field teams and upper management are in their ability to communicate, the stronger the support for partner development, coaching, and accountability. “The second portion of Starbucks organizational structure is the continuation of support functions operating as their own department and supporting the shared goals and visions of each of the U. S. ivisions as well as the international circuit (Shultz, 2008). Starbucks revamped organizational structure is paired with Howard Shultz personal philosophy about people. “More than most managers, I rely heavily on my instincts about people. Whether I’m hiring a key executive, selecting an investment banker, or assessing a partner in a joint venture, I look for the same qualities most look for in choosing a spouse: integrity and passion. To me, they’re just as important as experience and abilities” (Schultz & Yang, 1997).

What does all this information about organizational structure have to do with management styles and communication? Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks Coffee Company North America and Starbucks Coffee International sums it up best. In his book, “It’s Not About the Coffee: Leadership Lessons From a Life at Starbucks” Behar lists The 10 Principles of Personal Leadership, which are actively in use at the Starbucks Corporation to this date.

They are: 1) Know Who You Are: Wear One Hat, 2) Know Why You’re Here: Do It Because It’s Right, Not Because It’s Right for Your Resume, 3) Think Independently: The Person Who Sweeps the Floor Should Choose the Broom, 4) Build Trust: Care, Like You Really Mean It, 5) Listen for the Truth: The Walls Talk, 6) Be Accountable: Only the Truth Sounds Like the Truth, 7) Take Action: Think Like a Person of Action, and Act Like a Person of Thought, 8) Face Challenge: We Are Human Beings First, 9) Practice Leadership: the Big Noise and the Still, Small Voice, and 10) Dare to Dream: Say “Yes,” the Most Powerful Word in the World (Behar, 2007-2008).

Knowing this about the Starbucks organizational structure and it’s philosophies, it is easy to see how the first four leadership types under Transactional Leader alone (Laissez-Faire, Management by Exception – Passive, Management by Exception – Active, and Contingent Reward) would not be conducive to communication, productivity, or work satisfaction among the partners. “As part of Mr. Schultz multifaceted turnaround plan, the chain launched MyStarbucksIdea. com in July 2008 as a forum for consumers and partners to make suggestions, ask questions, and in some cases, vent their frustrations. The website now has over 180,000 registered users. Some 80,000 ideas have been submitted (many of them duplications), and 50 of which have been implemented in stores (York, 2010). Not only does Starbucks utilize their own website to capture the trends and feeling of its customers, it also has a very successful Facebook and Twitter following.

Charles Bruzzo, VP-Brand, Content, and Online saw that the trend of the times was to moving toward an intersection between digital and physical. He enlisted the help of Brad Nelson, form barista who rose through its IT ranks, to become the “Twitter in Chief”. Starbucks is not the only industry leader who embraces many of these philosophies. In a recent article in Veterinary Economics, the author used Howard Behar’s statement “The sweeper should choose the broom” to emphasize his point. “Ideally, everyone who’ll be affected by a particular decision should be involved in the process at some level – at the very least they should have their views taken into consideration.

Among the benefits: team members using equipment on a daily basis know more about it than anyone else, job satisfaction tends to increase as people are given an opportunity to participate in decisions affecting their work, and empowered employees do a better job than “do as you’re told” employees (Levoy, 2010). Starbucks epitomizes these principles with its leadership style. It uses the four types of Transformational Leadership. Idealized Influence (there is very clear vision, mission, pride, respect and trust nurtured), Inspirational Motivation (high expectations are communicated both upwards and downwards), Intellectual Stimulation (partners are provided with an intense training program and receive ongoing learning opportunities which enable them to make problem solve and make independent decisions that are supported by management), and Individualized Consideration (partners are treated as family, given opportunities for growth and advancement).

There is no doubt that any other type of leadership style would splinter the culture carefully cultivated over the decades and seriously damage the morale and profitability of the company. Sources of Power and Communication “Power refers to a capacity that A has to influence the behavior of B so that B acts in accordance with A’s wishes. This definition implies a potential that need not be actualized to be effective and a dependency relationship” (Robbins & Judge, 2007). Of the two main categories and five subcategories of power types (Formal Power: Coercive, Reward, Legitimate, and Personal Power: Expert, Referent), it is evident that all are in place at different levels, with some more strongly than others. Forced compliance may thus result in collective protest in the form of strikes or individualized protest in the form of absence, turnover and the like. Inevitably, the use of coercive power undermines authority” (Blyton, 2007). Coercive power, which is dependent of fear, may be present at a minimal level inn light of the economic times in which we are currently living, but as a whole and over the history of the company, it is not a main factor. Reward power exists in all business simply due to the fact the someone in charge must ultimately make decisions on raises and promotions. Along with reward power, legitimate power has a place in the corporation because ultimately, there is a level of upper management and those beneath that level must comply with their mandates.

However, in the Starbucks Corporation, partners justifiably believe that they have a great deal more influence in the process than many other companies of similar fast-food natures. Because goals are clearly defined and prominent in the minds of all employees as well as the means to achieve them, partners are empowered to make things happen for themselves. Whereas they respect the authority of upper management, they know that they have many forums in which to communicate their ideas, concerns, and frustrations, and that these are taken very seriously. “Where authority is legitimized and managers’ rules are complied with by workers out of a sense of consent and shared values, the quality of that compliance is very different from that which may be coerced from them by the exercise of power.

Crucially, in an employment relationship characterized by the use of managerial power rather than legitimized authority, the coercive nature of the relationship may legitimize, in the eyes of the subordinate, alternative action to oppose that management power” (Blyton, 2007). Starbucks embraces this ideology through its use of personal power (they value an individual’s unique characteristics), expert power (more man hours are spent on training baristas than in any other entry-level fast food company) and referent power (integrity and passion are a must for Howard Schultz when hiring at any level). Again, an emphasis on Starbucks belief that their employees are one of their most important assets and that more funds is spent on training than advertizing clearly communicates the level of commitment the company has toward their partners.

When the atmosphere is one of a family, employees are valued, power bases are built on mutual respect and mutual goals, and communication is strongly used both upward and downward, the affect is a more enthusiastic and productive staff. Motivational Theories and Communication “Motivation is the processes that account for an individual’s intensity, direction, and persistence of effort toward attaining a goal” (Robbins & Judge, 2007). There are several theories about motivation and their impact on communication and corporations. A few specific theories stand out when considering the culture of the Starbucks Corporation. Theory Y, as proposed by Douglas McGregor, holds four assumptions held by managers. 1) Employees can view work as being as natural as rest or play 2) People will exercise self-direction and self-control if they are committed to the objectives 3) The average person can learn to accept, even seek, responsibility 4) The ability to make innovative decisions is widely dispersed throughout the population and is not necessarily the sole province of those in management positions” (Robbins & Judge, 2007). “In his Acquired Needs Theory, David McClelland proposed that an individual’s specific needs are acquired over time and are shaped by one’s life experiences. Most of these needs can be classified as either: achievement, affiliation, or power.

A person’s motivation and effectiveness in certain job functions are influenced by these three needs” (Internet Center for Management and Business Administration, Inc. , 2002-2010). These needs are defined as: “1) Need for Achievement: The drive to excel, to achieve in relation to a set of standards, to strive for success 2) Need for Affiliation: The desire for friendly and close interpersonal relationships 3) Need for Power: The need to make others behave in a way that they would not have behaved otherwise” (Robbins & Judge, 2007). While worded differently in Starbucks mission statement, visions, and goals, the underlying theme is the same as these two motivational theories. There is an intrinsic motivation characteristic looked for when hiring new partners.

It is the belief of the Starbucks Corporation that skills can be taught, however, personality and motivation are key foundational traits for which they can build upon to develop a superior workforce. These two theories are particularly amenable to quality communication because these types of workers value input from both those who are above them on the management level, and those that report to them. Excellent ideas can come from anywhere, and in a place that fosters respect of others thoughts and ideas are more likely to obtain the open lines of communication that they desire. Commitment of the Workforce and Communication “Organizational commitment is defined as a state in which an employee identifies with a particular organization and its goals and wishes to maintain membership in the organization.

High job involvement means identifying with one’s specific job, while high organizational commitment means identifying with one’s employing organization” (Robbins & Judge, 2007). However, commitment goes two ways and it is often the commitment of the company that invigorates the commitment of its employees. A company must first be a desirable place to work. “ Starbucks, the Seattle-based coffee empire, was among the top 10 on Fortune’s most recent “America’s Most Admired Companies” list. The magazine also rated it the most admired food-services company in 2001 and 2002. Business Week named founder Howard Schultz one of the country’s top 25 managers in 2001 (Hammers, 2003). As a result of such measures, Starbucks employees have an 82 percent job-satisfaction rate, according to a Hewitt Associates Starbucks Partner View Survey. This compares to a 50 percent satisfaction rate for all employers and 74 percent for Hewitt’s “Best Place to Work” employers (Hammers, 2003). It is clear that the commitment between employer and employee at the Starbucks Corporation is reciprocal and that it is based on mutual goals, mutual respect, common ideology, and the commitment to improve their product and productivity through open communication and a willingness to work together.

References Behar, H. (2007-2008). It’s Not About the Coffee: Leadership Lessons From a Life at Starbucks. Howard Behar. Retrieved from http://www. howardbehar. om/author. shtml Blyton, P. (2007). Key Concepts In Work. Credo Reference. Retrieved from http://www. credoreference. com/entry/sageukwork/power_and_authority George, J. , ; Jones, G. (2005). Understanding and Managing Organizational Behavior (4th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. Hammers, M. (2003). Compensation, Benefits, and Rewards. Workforce Management. Retrieved from http://www. workforce. com/section/benefits-compensation/feature/starbucks-is-pleasing- employees-pouring-profits/index. html Internet Center for Management and Business Administration, Inc.. (2002-2010). Management. Retrieved from http://www. etmba. com/mgmt/ob/motivation/mcclelland/ Levoy, B. (2010). Business Center. Veterinary Economics. Retrieved from http://veterinarybusiness. dvm360. com/vetec/Team+Communication/The-sweeper-should- choose-the-broom/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/651028 Robbins, S. P. , ; Judge, T. A. (2007). Organizational Behavior (12th ed. ). : Prentice Hall, Inc. Shultz, H. (2008). Starbucks Newsroom. Starbucks Corporation. Retrieved from http://news. starbucks. com/article_display. cfm? article_id=66 Schultz, H. , ; Yang, D. J. (1997). Put Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time (2nd ed. ). New York, NY: Hyperion.