Learning to lead
As the days turned into weeks and even months, we slowly but surely began building a reputation for quality coffee. However one of the challenges that we were encountering was how to manage the staff and the coffee shop as a whole. We would find it so much easier to ask each other to do jobs, rather than asking the staff we employed. So in the beginning, this often meant that we would be scrubbing the bathroom while the staff stood happily polishing spoons. This, I agree, does seem like a silly situation and we probably were a little too paranoid about trying to keep the staff happy in the beginning. This lack of confidence in directing the staff and us not wanting to ask too much of them only led to us to having an ever increasing workload. Over time, we learnt to delegate more and in the end, our lovely employees learnt that we were not afraid of hard work and that we never asked them to do something that we were not prepared to do ourselves.
Quite quickly, our team came to understand what we were trying to achieve in terms of great coffee in a unique coffee shop through sheer hard work and dedication. The empathy and respect they had for us was demonstrated when we learnt that all the staff had at some point in the first 3 months been approached by other owners who offered them a higher paid job elsewhere. It says a lot that they all turned down these offers to stay with Artisan and help us on our journey. I really do think if we had lost one of them in those opening 3 months, this would have been a major setback. A big lesson learnt is the way you treat staff and the mutual understanding towards each other is not only important but vital to running a successful business.
We knew right from the start that employing staff was in fact the biggest business expense and at the same time, the most important resource, so we chose to continually invest in them. This did not just mean sending them on coffee courses, but for us we decided to take it a step further and often sent them on evenings out together such as to bowling or just out drinking. We felt that as many of them were from Australia, the more at home they felt in the UK the happier they would be at work. We would set them targets and if they reached these we would try and find fun ways for them to get out and see London together and if we could ever help them in settling in we would go out of our way to do so.
Although staffing issues can be incredibly frustrating and challenging; when you do finally get it right they really are worth holding on to and in our situation – they create the fun atmosphere that Artisan strives to have.