Friday, December 13, 2013

How to be awesome at your job

Specifically, this is about how to be an awesome barista at Starbucks, but the ideas can mostly be applied to everything else.

1. Be nice and smile
I'm sure there are plenty of studies and facts and science behind this, but my anecdotal evidence is plenty enough proof for me. People who smile more are more likeable. In every group, club, team or conglomeration, the person I inevitably like best is the one who smiles the most. Some people aren't natural smilers (I'm not). For those people (me), smiling is part of the job. You're getting paid to do lots of things, but mostly you're getting paid to serve people, and they take more notice when it's service with a smile.

2. Accept what you're doing and make the best of it
In my service-job days (which are numerous and plentiful and extensive), I considered it the totality of my job to (1) Stand and (2) Do things other than what I'd do if I weren't getting paid. Had I not been working on a particular day at Jimmy John's or Subway or BD's Mongolian Grill (or Quizno's or Papa John's or California Pizza Kitchen or ...) I'd most-likely have been sitting somewhere and watching a movie, listening to music or working out. With a few exceptions (being abused by coworkers or customers, doing something inhumane, et al), nothing else at work mattered. I was being paid to do varying degrees of things I didn't want to do.

There's no point in complaining. If you don't like your coworkers or customers, quit and work in a different (though probably mostly the same) service job. If you like those things, then appreciate that you could be doing the same thing at a place you find more unpleasant.

3. Treat everyone like your friend
I'm not a particularly outgoing person. I'm not awkwardly shy and I don't get nervous in crowds, but when I'm not working, I mostly prefer to be left alone. It's been that way my whole life. So when I behave outgoing, I'm mostly pretending to behave the way I think an outgoing person should.
Part of that faking that I've learned (through many years of practice) is that if I just treat strangers like friends, they start to think of me as friendly. Friendly people are fun to be around. If people have fun being around you, they're nicer to you and they smile more. Plus, if they find you friendly, they'll come back. Then you get returning customers who are pleasant. I never much cared about having returning customers, but I did care about having nice customers. So if I knew a returning customer would be pleasant and did not know anything about the mentality customers I'd never met before, I always chose the returning ones.

4. Learn peoples names
Many of the people at Starbucks now know my name. It's awesome. They say "hi" to me when I walk in. They write fun messages on my cup.
Other people do not know my name. It's a hassle with little upside for me to try to eloquently pronounce my name, then repeat it, and say it loud, and repeat it again. I don't really care if they spell my name write on my cup as long as they make my drink. But that attitude turns buying my hot chocolate into a utilitarian process instead of a pleasant process.

And that's all I have time for. But maybe I'll add more stuff later.