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McDonald’s USA: Where Burgers Are Big Business
McDonald’s USA, Chief Learning Officer magazine’s No. 5 ranked LearningElite company for 2012, moves up the rankings by serving up development that makes employees better at business execution and customer service.
Diana Thomas (second from left), McDonald’s vice president of U.S. training, and the company’s learning team moved up four places to fifth in the 2012 LearningElite.
When an organization serves 64 million customers a day at 33,000 restaurants in 117 countries, smooth operation and seamless business execution are paramount.At Hamburger University (HU) in Oak Brook, Ill., the nerve center of McDonald’s training operations since 1961, the company’s USA Training, Learning and Development (TLD) team brings that same focus to employee development.“Consistency of execution will always be one of our biggest focus areas,” said Diana Thomas, the company’s vice president of U.S. training. “We look at what we have established as our standards in HU … and we are now ensuring that each of our regional training groups deliver consistently the same curriculum.”That focus on execution paid off with a move up the Chief Learning Officer LearningElite rankings from No. 9 in 2011 to No. 5 this year. McDonald’s USA also was recognized with the 2012 Editor’s Choice award for Learning Execution. Thomas credits the surge in part to a greater focus on strategy and execution aligned to measurement.“We were always passionate about learning, but we’re even more focused on those key things we need to do to drive learning and training to the next level, which has to do a lot with being able to measure the feedback that you’re getting,” she said.McDonald’s learning strategy is aligned with Plan to Win, its three-year business strategy that encompasses five business priorities: people, products, place, price and promotion. Thomas said the key to her team’s execution of that plan is being customer centered, keeping close tabs on how customers rate the restaurant experience and developing ways to support restaurant operations.
“We’re constantly looking not only at what do our learners want but what does the business need and making sure that we’re meeting that need,” she said.Thomas said close alignment of employee development with leadership and business strategy goes deep into the company’s history, back to the days of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc.
“When you have to do a great job at execution, it has to be embedded in everything you do from your top leader down to that shift manager to make sure they have the latest, greatest information, whether it’s promotions or changes in the menu,” she said.
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