Starbucks & HR Communications

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Perrik sent me a list of the Starbucks store closures because she’s a) awesome and b) concerned about my impending relocation. Perrik just gets me. She understands that my search for a new home in North Carolina is dependent upon the home’s proximity to a local Starbucks store.

Additionally, I love the touchy-feely letter that was published with the closure list.

As we announced on July 1, 2008, Starbucks will close approximately 600 company-operated stores in the U.S. beginning this month and continuing through the first half of FY09. Partners in the stores listed below have been personally notified that their store has been slated to close during this timeframe.

In the spirit of transparency with our partners, customers and communities, we have provided the full list of stores below for general information purposes. Store partners will receive advance notice and more details from their leadership team once a specific closure date has been confirmed. After specific closure dates have been communicated to all affected partners, we will continue to update the confirmed store list at www.starbucks.com.

Full List of U.S. Store Closures

This list is provided solely for general information purposes, and does not create any obligation or commitment by Starbucks Coffee Company with respect to the closure of any particular store. This list is based on currently available operating, financial and competitive information. Actual store closures may differ depending on a variety of factors including, but not limited to, risks related to finalization of third party agreements, expected costs savings, income tax and other benefits associated with the store closures in the anticipated time frame, if at all. Starbucks undertakes no obligation to notify third parties of such changes.

Ah, memories.

How many HR practitioners and lawyers does it take to write a statement like this? The answer is simple: too many.

I’ve written a ton of heartfelt, pro-transparency layoff notices — and it’s an absurd task, yo. The behind-the-scenes process of writing this type of communication document makes the phrase ‘stakeholder management’ seem quaint. It’s not stakeholder management. It’s bullshit.

To write a 250-word statement about impending layoffs, I had to navigate through

  • a core team of HR Directors and HR Communications consultants who would co-author the first draft
  • several HR VPs who would review the draft and make notes and provide feedback
  • the employment law group — who never signed off easily because they seem to know more about employment law than practicing HR Generalists
  • the SVP of HR who had to own it
  • the Executive Leadership Team of a company (COO, President, General Counsel, Chief Auditor, etc.) who had to approve it and endorse it to the CEO/Board of Directors.

The process is a clusterfuck — and it should be easier each time because there are templates and lessons learned and tookits and SWOT teams that are staffed with overpriced consultants who analyze our HR department’s performance during the process. Unfortunately, HR reinvents the wheel every time we have to create a job loss notification.

Ugh. My heart goes out to the HR leader at Starbucks who had to corral the “stakeholders” and own this document from conception to publication. Oy. What a job!

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