Management By Latte

At the main campus where I work, we have a huge number of employees, so the company actually has five different cafeterias to handle the hungry hoards.

There is the “main” cafeteria that stays open through dinner time. All day long they have a full espresso coffee bar and a huge assortment of made-on-site pastries. It’s awesome!

The lady who works the espresso machine in the big cafeteria is a goddess. She can make cappuccino foam so firm, you can build a house on it. She’s fast and talented at this coffee game.

Needless to say, I adore this woman.

Recently the big cafeteria shut down for the month of June to make enhancements. That means the coffee lady and the pastries came over to do their thing in the small cafeteria on the first floor of my building.

Good news, right? The downside is that I now have to go to the cafeteria where all the workers are cranky. I mean, these folks look mad, beat down, and unhappy in there.

When I order my usual decaf latte at this small cafeteria they roll their eyes and sarcastically call out the order to the person pulling shots. That person then looks like they would rather do anything else in the whole wide world.

Since I’m usually in an all fire hurry at work and the big cafeteria is a bit of a hike away, I just endure the rolly eyes and play through.

But this past week, I noticed a change.

Subtle but important.

Here’s how it went down:

Me (to cashier): “Decaf double latte, please.”

Normally Surly Cashier: “Sure. : yelling : Mamita! Decaf doble latte, por favor!”

Coffee Goddess: “Claro, que si, mija” (with a sweet mom-like smile)

Now-not-so-surly cashier: (with a smile to me) “Three dollars please.”

Coffee Goddess then turns to see who ordered the decaf. “Oh! It’s you! Hello!”

Me: “Hi! You knew it had to be me, right? No one else orders decaf.”

Coffee Goddess: “Oh no, honey, I drink decaf too. Do you want two percent?”

Me: “Yes, please.”

And I smiled. And she smiled. And the cashier smiled. And everyone was smiling. And happy. And going about their jobs with a new sense of joy.

Could this complete change in attitude all be because of the wonderful, kind Coffee Goddess?

I watched all of this go down with my manager’s eyes and it really showed me something. Made me think about how one really negative person can make a whole work team unhappy.

That’s pretty well known, I think. The “poison apple” syndrome.

But here I saw firsthand that one really positive person can make the whole work team better. Happier. More productive.

Good stuff. And exceptionally good coffee.

When July begins and the Coffee Goddess goes back to the other cafeteria, I’ll miss her madly.

I imagine the formerly surly work team will too.

Coffee Goddess image found on Sodahead.

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  • Anji

    Let’s hope that she leaves them some sunshine…

  • Frank Conway

    Pay, benefits and working conditions have also been known to affect morale, I have observed with my non managerial eyes.

  • Frank Conway

    On further reflection, I know, you were trying to make a particular point. In that regard my comment is out of line. But you’re a writer first and a manager and everything else second. That’s how I see you, anyway. I don’t really know you. I just read your web log now and then and enjoy your writing and notice that you have good writing instincts and good powers of observation and can tell a story. A writer has to have an expansive world view. That’s all I’m saying. Has to wonder why some people are cheerful and some aren’t.

    You don’t have to be a Charles Dickens or George Orwell but think of Tolstoy and Anna Karanina and how he portrays the peasants.

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