3 Things I Learned From My McDonald’s Leadership Keynote

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Guest article from keynote speaker Brian Carter.

I recently spoke to 400 restaurant managers, supervisors and store owners from 260 McDonald’s stores in the Midwest. It was a great experience, in part because they were such a positive and organized group. And because of what I learned in the process!

#1 Clear values create clear leaders.

Unclear leaders are tough to follow. And organizations with unclear values have weak cultures.

McDonald’s has really clear values. And makes them clear to their leaders. Which makes it easier for their leaders to lead the culture in the direction that McDonald’s wants to go.

They teach three major things to their managers:

  1. Customer obsession
  2. Better together
  3. Committed to lead

Those three values create a great customer experience, team experience and leadership experience.

There is constant change and a lot of noise. The organization and leaders with the clearest values is the organization that wins.

#2 Knowing your people strengthens your culture.

One of the leaders in this McDonald’s coop mentioned, “It’s the old thing of: do you know three things about every one of your employees?” 

When you know what an employee likes or loves, you have something meaningful to talk about with them that increases your bond and strengthens the organizational culture.

And when I did a keynote for the Hurts Donut franchise in Oklahoma city, one of the franchise owners (who also owns two Wendy’s stores) told me that he actually kept a database of info about his people. He knows their birthdays and their kids names, maybe even their kids’ birthdays, and other info. He makes a point of doing something on their special days. And that’s why he has such a great employee retention rate, among other performance metrics.

#3 Compliments boost customer loyalty.

I did a lot of “research” leading up to the McDonald’s event, which involved me going through the drive through and eating lots of cheeseburgers… 🙂

But I was also timing their OEPE (the time it takes to deliver the food to a customer after they order) to see how well they were doing at that particular performance metric.

One of those times through the drive-thru, I received an awesome compliment from a McDonald’s employee.

I pulled up to pay for my #9 meal and the 75-year-old lady in the drive-thru window looked at me and said, “You have the most beautiful blue eyes!”

To which I replied, “Yes I do!”

Just kidding. I actually said, “Thanks!”

But I felt awesome because of her compliment, and her compliment made it even more likely I’d come back, and that I’d choose that McDonald’s over another McDonald’s, and even that I’d choose that McDonald’s over another local food option.

So, how many people have you complimented today?

Or for some of us- when was the last time you complimented anybody?

We all crave compliments. We love them. It’s easy to them and costs you nothing.

So I challenged my McDonald’s audience of managers and store owners to compliment 3 people every day. Including their loved ones.

Those are the three things I learned from doing this McDonald’s keynote:

  • When we have clarity of values, we lead with more clarity.
  • When we know things about those we manage, we can engage them better and strengthen the team.
  • And when we compliment our people, they’re more likely to stick around.

So here are some questions for you:

  • Are your values clear enough?
  • Do you know enough about your employees?
  • And have you complimented them lately?

Brian Carter is a business leader, bestselling author and funny keynote speaker with clients like McDonald’s, Microsoft, NBC, Salesforce, JP Morgan and The U.S. Army. His frequent media appearances include Bloomberg TV, ABC, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and The New York Times. For more info, see his keynote speaking website.