Do you ever take your staff out for a cup of coffee? A simple 20-minute coffee chat can be a powerful management and leadership tool that leaders often forget to use.

Taking time each week to take a member of your staff out for coffee may help you discover more about your business than any customer survey or consultant could tell you, especially if you don’t work in your business every day. Because your staff do.

Your staff knows your customers and suppliers; they understand what’s selling and what’s not; they have ideas about displays and sales systems. They have thoughts on customer service policies and staff scheduling. And they would like to share their knowledge with you.

One of the most common complaints from staff in front-line service organizations is that there isn’t enough communication between staff and management. Even in very small businesses.

So in today’s highly competitive market, why not use every tool available to you? The coffee chat allows you to enhance two of your most important business skills:

1)    Employee engagement

2)    Communications

Consider blocking 20-30 minutes of your week to take a different member of your team out for coffee on a rotating basis. That adds up to four insightful conversations each month. Not sure what to talk about? Here are a few ideas:

  • Share your vision for the business or for your customer service experience with your staff. Ask them if they have ideas on how best to deliver your vision.
  • Ask them if the staff schedule is efficient but also flexible. Is it supporting or detracting from staff satisfaction?
  • Ask them if they have ideas about floor displays or product promotions that could result in higher sales?
  • Ask them if they have what they need to bring their best selves to work each day.

And once your employee is done sharing their thoughts on the business, then make it about them:

  • Ask them about their career goals and if there are things you could do to help them in achieving those goals.
  • Ask them how they would like to celebrate team success – find out what’s meaningful to them.
  • Ask them what they are passionate about and find ways to acknowledge and support that.

Whether you are chatting with them about your business or about themselves, your staff will respect your interest in them, especially if you take action following your coffee chats.

Creating a workplace where staff feel listened to, appreciated, cared for and valued will result in better performances from your employees and a happier, more effective workplace.

That’s an investment in your business that will pay dividends. All for the price of a cup of coffee.

~ Maureen Douglas, Certified Professional Faciltator-IAF

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