CEO of Starbucks: HR Needs a Seat at the Table

This article was sent to me today.

I must say, it was a very pleasant surprise to find out that Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, not only values HR, but believes that HR is essential to building a company.

Q. What is your advice to an entrepreneur who asks you: “I’m just starting a company. How do I create a culture?”

A. I would say that everything matters — everything. You are imprinting decisions, values and memories onto an organization. In a sense, you’re building a house, and you can’t add stories onto a house until you have built the kind of foundation that will support them. I think many start-ups make mistakes because they are focusing on things that are farther ahead, and they haven’t done the work that has built the foundation to support it.

People ask me what’s the most important function when you’re starting an organization or setting up the kind of culture and values that are going to endure.

The discipline I believe so strongly in is H.R., and it’s the last discipline that gets funded. Marketing, manufacturing — all these things are important. But more often than not, the head of H.R. does not have a seat at the table. Big mistake.

Say what you want about Starbucks, but it’s very nice to know that the CEO of such a successful company holds HR in such high esteem. Knowing this, I would work for Mr. Schultz without a second thought.

Big thanks to George Kelly for sending this my way!