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March 14, 2012


It goes with out saying that employees are integral to the success of any said business. Each individual business requires specific things from their staff.

In each sector of employment there is a general understanding of what a particular role in that sector requires in order for you personally to excel and for the employer to see benefits from your work as part of a larger structure. Mostly there is a crossover of skill sets that will allow you to progress more quickly and the length of the training period is defined by the complexity and character of the role as well as your aptitude to it.

The same hurdles that require a different communication with the customer can be applied to our recruitment and training.

As I am sure you have gathered from the previous posts we do things very specifically in direct relation to our business and its purpose. For the employment of an individual to be successful on many different levels the key tenants of how we operate and what is expected of them have to be well understood.

I would posit the much touted notion that hospitality in Britain is not seen as a serious role or career path but as a transitory job. This is very understandable on many different levels. It suits the needs of many people, either a student or a traveller, someone between jobs or part time work for people juggling life’s many responsibilities. It also suits the needs of a lot of companies who can keep their wage bill down and have a flexible team etc. but in return these outlets must build their service around the knowledge that its most likely not the passion of their employees and that they will probably not stay that long.

You see this in full effect with larger companies. Consistency of product is the biggest worry.  The best service and product are only that if they can be consistently repeated and offered every time. Clever hospitality businesses will understand the reality of what they offer to potential employees and the type of staff they can repeatedly expect to find and hire. Their product and service should then be built with this in mind. What you will often see is systems that simplify tasks to easily relatable ideas and standards that they can expect everybody to easily pick up and carry out after undergoing a relatively quick training period. In essence creating fewer margins for error.

I myself when working in such companies have struggled. I have felt restricted and disheartened at the idea that a product and its service could not be better. This does not apply with all larger businesses, as size and scope can often also improve the quality of a product due to more resources and expertise etc. This is a syndrome that seems to be prevalent in the more craft and specialist areas like food and drink. Where this is less true is in developed areas with a large talent pool of keen enthusiastic individuals. The size and scope of a business will always be limited by the size of this pool

Not all companies wish to pursue specialism and perfection, there goals may be different and to achieve them they have a larger perspective about what is logistically possible and that’s what I realised, If you decide to work in these companies then this needs to not just be understood but valued. Certain things will work on a larger scale and others won’t.

I was not the right kind of person to be working in this type of company and we have created our own business that aims not to compromise in the same ways, maybe our compromise will be our possible size and growth?

For our goals to be met every member of staff has to be passionately committed and work full time to be effective. They need to be willing to bear the responsibility of representing such a shop. All of the staff are often mistaken as one of the owners. I think this is excellent and of course I want all staff to have investment and care akin to an owner. Again this is something I’m sure most people would want from their staff but it can’t be expected if you have dulled down their role to monotonous tasks that don’t challenge and reward in anyway.

In the pursuit of offering a speciality coffee experience A lot of industry rules have been thrown out and I’ve realised that rather than replace them with my own, They need to be replaced with understanding and knowledge. This is why staff can be so hard to find and nurture because they can’t just be given rules to follow, they need to be willing and capable of developing into a skilled passionate coffee person- a professional in the field.

I will be honest, One of my original reasoning’s behind this post was to give prospective applicants a deeper understanding of what a role at Colonna and Small’s would entail and to therefore streamline the hiring process and attract the right individuals as well as not waste the time of people who just want a café job for the time being whilst pursuing other goals.

The last couple of blog posts actually seem to have done this job for me. With many applicants noting that had they not read the blog they would not have seen the job as something that would fulfil them or present enough challenges, development and understanding.

In the end it can be quite wonderful, a concept that is fully realised resulting in your brand promise to customers being fulfilled and staff who love and value what they do.


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