McDonald’s turns up the heat

first_imgMcDonald’s turns up the heatOn 1 Oct 2003 in Personnel Today Head of training Lynn Phillips explains why the rebranding of foodphenomenon McDonald’s brings a massive skills programme in its wakeWalk into a McDonald’s this month and you should notice a difference. RonaldMcDonald is still going strong and so too are the burgers and fries, but nowcustomers can choose from a menu that includes chicken, fish, a choice ofsalads and possibly low-fat yoghurt. What’s more, it’s all being served with asmile. This rebranding, which comes with the slogan ‘I’m lovin’ it’, is part of aworldwide initiative to get the fast-food giant back on track. At the end of last year and for the first time in its history the firm wentinto the red, hit by food scares and changing tastes in family eating. Soworried was the US firm by its falling sales that it wooed its former companypresident Jim Cantalupo back from retirement to help turn the firm around. In addition to its changing menus, McDonald’s is refurbishing itsrestaurants and has launched a global advertising campaign aimed at winningback customers. But such a massive rebranding campaign can not happen withoutinput from the training and HR function. As a result a massive hospitalitytraining programme is about to sweep through the firm’s 1,231 restaurants inthe UK. This is where head of HR and training Lynn Phillips (right), who has beenwith the firm for more than 20 years, comes in. “The fast food industry isnow a completely different place from when I started working here,” shesays. “The whole pattern of people eating out has changed. Perhaps what wehave seen recently at McDonald’s is the result of us not changing quicklyenough.” Phillips started working as a part-time crew member in her local McDonald’swhile still at school. She continued during her gap year between school anduniversity, rising to a first-line supervisor. When she finished her degree inmodern languages she went back to McDonald’s as a management trainee. “I started out in restaurant management, but I had already said that Iwas interested in moving to personnel. It was a very small department then, butafter three or four years McDonald’s found me a job in the personnel team andI’ve been here ever since.” Phillips moved up the ranks until 1995 when she took over as head of HR. Twoyears later she was given responsibility for customer services as well, andearlier this year she became head of training too, reporting to the UK’s chiefoperating officer. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to work closely with the operations partof the business,” Phillips says. “I know that training is a strengthfor us, but I want to see it translated into business results.” McDonald’s decision to bring HR and training under one person meant Phillipscould be intimately involved with early rebranding plans in the UK. “Thissort of global exercise is a first for us although each country does have theautonomy to adapt the global framework to its own needs,” Phillips says. She and her colleagues worked closely with the communications team in thebuild-up to the rebranding, especially when it came to talking to restaurantmanagers about what was happening. “We’ve helped with the content of thesesessions and made sure they were relevant to the management audience,” shesays. In addition they have been pulling together the hospitality trainingprogramme that, by the end of this year, will have cascaded down to the 68,000crew members working in McDonald’s wholly owned and franchised restaurants inthe UK. According to Phillips, the development work really started a year agowhen McDonald’s began rolling out a training programme for restaurant staffcalled ‘out to make you smile’. “From each restaurant we brought together the core team of managers andkey staff into one of our training centres and went through things like customerprofiles, what customers are looking for and the barriers to good service. “The aim was for all these teams to take this information and developtheir own mission statement to take back to their restaurants and instil it inother crew members.” It has proved a highly successful programme, Phillips says. “We’ve useda mystery shopper exercise to measure it and found that the restaurants thatreceived the training were scoring between 3 and 5 per cent higher on servicethan the national and regional averages.” Next generation On the back of this programme, McDonald’s is now running what Phillipsdescribes as the next generation of hospitality training. Called ‘FriendlinessFirst’, the programme will take restaurant management teams off-site to one ofthe firm’s seven regional training centres. There will of course be a video to bring home the purpose and processes ofthe rebranding, but teams will also be encouraged to thrash out the principlesof hospitality, the importance of how they interact with customers and how bothof these apply to the new face of McDonald’s. They will then return to theirrestaurants with a package of training materials to use with crew members and,by the end of 2003, all restaurant employees will have completed FriendlinessFirst. When it comes to what people see in a restaurant, hospitality training iskey, but it’s not just about reinforcing the rebranding, it’s about ratchetingup McDonald’s level of service overall. “The challenge of continuallyimproving service levels has always been there, but our competitors have gotbetter and we have not moved on as fast,” Phillips says. Hospitality It comes back to changes in the fast food business. McDonald’s has built itssuccess on the back of an emphasis on speed and functionality. But what peoplewant now is hospitality, not just service. Hence the current stress onfriendliness and smiling. As well as restoring the fast-food giant’s fortunes, Phillips is hoping thatthe ‘I’m lovin’ it’ rebranding will finally put paid to snide, clichéd remarksabout ‘McJobs’. It’s not a concept that she has ever recognised or understoodbecause, as far as she is concerned, McDonald’s offers some great careeropportunities. “Fifty per cent of our senior managers have been promoted from withinand 75 per cent of our restaurant managers have come up from crew members. Thisis a better track record than any other restaurant chain in the UK,”Phillips says. What’s more McDonald’s in now 29th in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers.Graduates come for training but often stay because the career opportunities areso good. “We have never aimed to be the highest payer. Our salaries andbenefits are competitive but beyond that it’s about the work we offer,”Phillips says. She blames the McJobs label on the snobbish UK press. “There’s still abig stigma in this country attached to working in the catering or servicesector,” she says. Research from the Work Foundation earlier this year,backs Phillips’ view. It described McDonald’s as one of the “unsung heavylifters at work in the UK economy… who dig deepest into some of the country’smost difficult and marginalised labour markets.” And it praised the firm’straining and development for taking unskilled workers and turning them intohigh-skilled employees. “We took part in the research because we knew we had good things to sayabout ourselves as an employer. We weren’t surprised by the findings but wewere encouraged to see that what we do is valuable,” Phillips says. She believes the key to McDonald’s training strength lies in the fact thatunit managers are so hands-on. “We say that training is everyone’s job, every day – that’s thetraining department’s mission statement,” Phillips says. Blended approach So as well as delivering most of the initial training for new recruits,managers will be there on the floor ready to provide coaching when it’s needed.More experienced crew members are also encouraged to take on the role of buddyor mentor to new and more junior staff. At the same time there is a form ofcurriculum for crew members. So there are check lists of tasks they mustcomplete and standards they should reach, there are work books to ploughthrough and NVQs to work towards. It’s a blended approach that works well forMcDonald’s. As a result the training department is relatively small with only 30 people,including regional training managers. What is more internal trainers have hadoperational experience with many coming on secondment from the front line for twoor three years. It all adds to the department’s success and credibility.”We want our trainers to be able to speak from a position ofknowledge,” Phillips says. As head of both training and HR she sees her role as one of co-ordinator orfacilitator. In many ways she is the glue between McDonald’s people strategyand operations. “My role is about making sure training is working tosupport the business, working with the regions and with other strategic areas.It’s about co-ordinating people and activities,” she says. After 20 years with the firm she cannot imagine being anywhere else.”The thing about this company is that every time I think I’ve gotsomething under my belt they find me a new challenge.” For the next fewmonths at least, that challenge will be getting managers and crew members inthe restaurants geared up for the rebranding and convincing them that ‘I’mlovin’ it’ is really worth it. rials to use with crew members and, by the end of 2003, all restaurantemployees will have completed Friendliness First. When it comes to what people see in a restaurant, hospitality training iskey, but it’s not just about reinforcing the rebranding, it’s about ratchetingup McDonald’s level of service overall. “The challenge of continuallyimproving service levels has always been there, but our competitors have gotbetter and we have not moved on as fast,” Phillips says. Hospitality It comes back to changes in the fast food business. McDonald’s has built itssuccess on the back of an emphasis on speed and functionality. But what peoplewant now is hospitality, not just service. Hence the current stress onfriendliness and smiling. As well as restoring the fast-food giant’s fortunes, Phillips is hoping thatthe ‘I’m lovin’ it’ rebranding will finally put paid to snide, clichéd remarksabout ‘McJobs’. It’s not a concept that she has ever recognised or understoodbecause, as far as she is concerned, McDonald’s offers some great careeropportunities. “Fifty per cent of our senior managers have been promoted from withinand 75 per cent of our restaurant managers have come up from crew members. Thisis a better track record than any other restaurant chain in the UK,”Phillips says. What’s more McDonald’s in now 29th in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers.Graduates come for training but often stay because the career opportunities areso good. “We have never aimed to be the highest payer. Our salaries andbenefits are competitive but beyond that it’s about the work we offer,”Phillips says. She blames the McJobs label on the snobbish UK press. “There’s still abig stigma in this country attached to working in the catering or servicesector,” she says. Research from the Work Foundation earlier this year,backs Phillips’ view. It described McDonald’s as one of the “unsung heavylifters at work in the UK economy… who dig deepest into some of the country’smost difficult and marginalised labour markets.” And it praised the firm’straining and development for taking unskilled workers and turning them intohigh-skilled employees. “We took part in the research because we knew we had good things to sayabout ourselves as an employer. We weren’t surprised by the findings but wewere encouraged to see that what we do is valuable,” Phillips says. She believes the key to McDonald’s training strength lies in the fact thatunit managers are so hands-on. “We say that training is everyone’s job, every day – that’s thetraining department’s mission statement,” Phillips says. Blended approach So as well as delivering most of the initial training for new recruits,managers will be there on the floor ready to provide coaching when it’s needed.More experienced crew members are also encouraged to take on the role of buddyor mentor to new and more junior staff. At the same time there is a form ofcurriculum for crew members. So there are check lists of tasks they mustcomplete and standards they should reach, there are work books to ploughthrough and NVQs to work towards. It’s a blended approach that works well forMcDonald’s. As a result the training department is relatively small with only 30 people,including regional training managers. What is more internal trainers have hadoperational experience with many coming on secondment from the front line fortwo or three years. It all adds to the department’s success and credibility.”We want our trainers to be able to speak from a position ofknowledge,” Phillips says. As head of both training and HR she sees her role as one of co-ordinator orfacilitator. In many ways she is the glue between McDonald’s people strategyand operations. “My role is about making sure training is working tosupport the business, working with the regions and with other strategic areas.It’s about co-ordinating people and activities,” she says. After 20 years with the firm she cannot imagine being anywhere else.”The thing about this company is that every time I think I’ve gotsomething under my belt they find me a new challenge.” For the next fewmonths at least, that challenge will be getting managers and crew members inthe restaurants geared up for the rebranding and convincing them that ‘I’mlovin’ it’ is really worth it. CVLynn PhilipsMay 03            Head ofHR and training (and customer services)May 97            Head of HR and customerservicesAug 95             Headof HRApr 94             London HR and trainingmanagerApr 90             Regionalpersonnel managerMar 87             Fieldpersonnel officerOct 83             JoinsMcDonald’s as a graduate trainee manager Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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