Perfect McDonald’s Case Study 2

Case Study 2

McDonald’s case study

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Write a five page paper in which you:

  1. Outline the talent management program that led to success for the company.
  2. Identify strengths of the program and how they led to goal accomplishment.
  3. Describe opportunities for improvement in the talent management planning process.
  4. Create at least two (2) more effective approaches to meet the talent management challenges in the future.
  5. Use at least five (5) quality academic resources in this assignment. Note: Wikipedia and other Websites do not quality as academic resources.

Your assignment must follow these formatting requirements:

  • Be typed, double spaced, using Times New Roman font (size 12), with one-inch margins on all sides; citations and references must follow APA or school-specific format. Include a cover page containing the title of the assignment, the student’s name, the professor’s name, the course title, and the date. The cover page and the reference page are not included in the required assignment page length.

For most of its fifty-four years of existence, McDonald’s has been quite successful growing its business while utilizing a decentralized approach to managing its global workforce. As the size, complexity, and global character of the business have continued to grow (to more than thirty-thousand restaurants in 118 countries serving fifty-five million customers per day), however, it became increasingly apparent that sustained success requires the development of more consistent and disciplined approaches to talent management and development.

In response to this recognized need, McDonald’s has taken a number of steps, starting in 2001, that have enhanced its capabilities for developing local leadership talent and ensuring management continuity throughout its global system. This chapter will provide an overview of how McDonald’s system for developing its management talent throughout the world has evolved over the past eight years and will focus on describing the design, roll-out, initial impacts, and continued refinement of five major initiatives that have been introduced to enhance this system since 2001.

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A number of factors led the organization to the conclusion that enhancements in its talent management and development system were needed. First, after many years of outstanding business results and growth, business performance began to falter. For the fourth quarter of 2002, in fact, the company declared the first loss in its history. In contrast to the significant problems surfacing in the company’s business results, however, the ratings of managers in McDonald’s performance management system were incredibly high and suggested that everyone was doing an outstanding job.

More specifically, more than 90 percent of the managers were rated either “outstanding” or “excellent,” and over 75 percent were assessed as having the potential to advance to take on greater responsibilities. Senior management recognized that “something was wrong with this picture.” It was clear that the bias toward inflated ratings of both performance and potential did not align with the overall performance of the business. Furthermore, senior management noted that, despite the very high ratings of employees’ potential throughout the system, when key leadership positions actually needed to be filled, the company was frequently having difficulty finding individuals everyone could agree were truly ready for these roles.

These factors led senior management of the company to begin to take significant actions to upgrade the company’s talent management systems and processes on a global basis. (Note: While the initiatives to enhance talent development that are described in this paper were well under way at the time, the urgency for them was painfully validated when in April of 2004, McDonald’s CEO Jim Cantalupo died suddenly and unexpectedly.

Fortunately, due to the heightened attention that was being given to talent management at this time, his successor, Charlie Bell, was quickly and smoothly named to step into the CEO role. Tragically, not long after Charlie Bell was named as CEO he was diagnosed with colon cancer and died within a year. Once again McDonald’s was challenged to address the succession issue at the very top of the organization and did so by naming Jim Skinner as CEO in January of 2005.)

Before launching into an in-depth description of McDonald’s talent management system, it is important to make clear how this system fits into McDonald’s overall business strategy and aligns with its key values. McDonald’s strategy to develop its global workforce is designed to be aligned with and support the execution of its over-arching strategic business goal, which is “to become everyone’s favorite place and way to eat.”

McDonald’s has an overall “plan to win” that provides the global business with a common framework for developing tactics to reach this goal. The framework includes five key elements: (1) people, (2) place, (3) product, (4) promotion, and (5) price (see  Table 9.1 ).

The five initiatives that have strengthened the company’s talent management system, and that will be described in this chapter, are key elements of the “people” component of the “plan to win.” They have been designed and implemented to enhance the organization’s global capability to develop and have “at the ready” the quantity and quality of leadership talent needed for effectively executing its “Plan to Win” and ensuring the company’s continued growth and success.

Further, in order for these talent management initiatives to be successful, it was clear that they also needed to reflect the value that McDonald’s places on striking the right global/local balance and customer/employee focus.

Striking the Right Global/Local Balance

In order for McDonald’s to successfully execute its business strategy, the company has determined it needs to excel at developing and successfully implementing a balanced global/local approach in managing and developing its global workforce. While global frameworks and parameters can be used to set the stage for success and align the entire business with regard to strategy, essential tactics, and a shared company culture—at the end of the day, the actual execution of the company’s “plan to win” depends on the capability of local talent to develop and customize the elective tactics to fit their local culture and circumstances.

As a business, McDonald’s success relies not only on the leverage that comes from its coherent business strategy and focus on standardizing core operations/processes but also on its ability to adapt its tactics to fit the needs and preferences of specific customers in particular regions or countries and to develop a deep connection between McDonald’s and the local communities in which it operates.

This connection is reflected in McDonald’s commitment to local charities; to Ronald McDonald Houses; and, most importantly, to the very people who own, operate, and manage McDonald’s stores in any locale, country, or region. Given this, it is deemed highly important that the individuals operating the business come from, understand, and represent the communities and cultures in which the business is located.

All areas of world have freedom to execute in their locales as long as they stick within the basic parameters of the “plan to win” framework by (1) developing an aligned strategy, (2) meeting customer needs within the marketplace, (3) supporting the global brand campaign—“I’m Loving It,” and (4) ensuring that their people develop and demonstrate key competencies that reflect the core elements of the company’s common culture and support its “plan to win.”

In addition to having the technical skills and expertise to do their specific jobs, staff throughout McDonald’s are expected to be attentive not just to getting results but to doing so in a way that is aligned with the company’s shared global company culture and values.

Customer and Employee Focus

Case Study 2

Whatever is done within McDonald’s is routinely assessed and measured against its impact on customers. Customer service and experience levels are key metrics that are embedded within the performance expectations for employees throughout the system. The company’s focus on and commitment to quality, service, cleanliness, and value (QSC&V) is strong.

These variables have been shown to be strongly linked to customer expectations and loyalty. Any and all efforts to enhance the company’s global workforce management system incorporate a focus on key behaviors (customer focus and service orientation) and results-metrics (speed and quality of service, food, and environment) that deliver to customers what they value.

McDonald’s has also paid significant attention to its employees and their development throughout its history. The company is well known for the opportunities it has given many of its people to grow with the company and to rise (over time) from working as a member of a store crew to its highest executive ranks. In addition, the company has placed strong emphasis on its managers’ ability to create a work climate within which their employees are motivated to excel, give their best, and help to make McDonald’s “everyone’s favorite place and way to eat.” Since 1997, McDonald’s has used its commitment survey to assess the extent to which the desired work climate is being created throughout the company. This survey gathers employee feedback on a wide variety of specific management behaviors and practices that have been shown to be linked to employees’ personal satisfaction and commitment and to the company’s business success. More specifically, the survey assesses employee satisfaction with such factors as the support and recognition they receive, the extent to which their skills are utilized and developed, their workload, the degree of their empowerment, resource availability to get the job done, the quality of supervision/leadership, and their compensation /benefits. A manager’s scores on the commitment survey are one of many important factors considered in rating his or her effectiveness and potential for advancement. In addition, turnover and tenure measures are used to evaluate the effectiveness of managers—especially in retaining top talent. The global workforce initiatives described later in this chapter were developed so that they reflect both the customer and employee focus described above.


As mentioned earlier, five separate initiatives were developed and have been implemented since 2001 to enhance McDonald’s talent management and development processes and support the organization’s goal of meeting the global leadership needs of the business. These include: (1) the redesign of the performance development system (PDS) for all staff positions throughout McDonald’s; (2) introduction of the talent review process for all officer-level positions; (3) the development and roll-out of a series of accelerated development programs beginning with the Leaders at McDonald’s Program (LAMP) launched in 2003 to enhance the development of high-potential individuals for officer level positions; followed by (4) the introduction of the McDonald’s Leadership Institute; and (5) the design and launch of the Global Leadership Development Program.

Initiative 1: Performance Development System Redesign

Prior to 2001, McDonald’s performance development system was comprised of (1) an “MBO-based” annual performance plan that measured performance against established annual objectives but included no assessment of how these results were achieved (that is, leadership behaviors); (2) a 5-point rating scale of overall performance ranging from “outstanding” to “unsatisfactory”; (3) a personal developmental planning element based on a McDonald’s-wide competency framework that included nine core competencies and four leadership competencies as well as a menu of “elective” competencies that could be chosen/applied as relevant in specific functional areas (see Table 9.2); (4) a three-level assessment of career potential that combined performance and demonstrated leadership competencies; and (5) an annual compensation system element tied to the results of the annual performance rating.

Competency CategorySpecific Competencies
Core Competencies
Change Orientation
Communicates Effectively
Continuous Learning
Customer Focus
Drives to Excel
Holds Self and Others Accountable
Problem Solving and Innovation
Teamwork and Collaboration
Values and Respects Others
Leadership Competencies
Coaches and Develops
Maximizes Team Effectiveness
Maximizes Business Performance
Strategic Perspective
Functional Competency Menu (elective)
Job Knowledge
Leverages Resources
Gathers and Uses Information
Impact and Influence
Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
Uses Technology Appropriately
Vendor Management

While the process for rating performance and potential was not unusual in structure and design, the outputs of the system reflected the culture of McDonald’s at that time. Specifically, there was significant rating inflation for both annual performance (98 percent of managers were rated either “outstanding” or “excellent”) and potential (78 percent of managers were rated as having the potential to advance in the business at least one level). Because there was significant inflation in such ratings, there was little meaningful performance and compensation differentiation. Further, since almost everyone was rated not only as being an excellent/outstanding performer but also as having advancement potential, it made differentiation for purposes of realistic succession planning very difficult.

Senior management realized that because the business had been so successful for so long, a culture of entitlement may have set in. This was exemplified by many employees believing that their past success and associated rewards would guarantee their future success/rewards rather than their having to earn success each day with every customer. Senior management believed it was important to change the culture in order to help the organization become better able to face the challenging realities of a more competitive global marketplace. As one approach to signaling the need for this change to the organization, the top management team at McDonald’s asked human resources to redesign the performance development system in order to (1) place a stronger focus on accountability for results, (2) increase performance differentiation, and (3) enhance openness to change and innovation.

The redesign and enhancement of the system (designed for all staff throughout the company—not just officers) rolled out in 2001 included the following changes:

1. The addition of six key expected leadership behaviors termed “performance drivers” (see  Table 9.3 ) as an element of how annual performance will be assessed so that managers would be measured not just on the “what” of their accomplishments but also on “how” they accomplished them. The performance drivers were very much like “competencies” but were written to measure the actual application of those competencies on the job versus measuring one’s level of capability. Further, these “performance drivers” were used as an additional key lever by top management to signal the importance of needed culture change along certain dimensions identified as critical to enable the organization to compete more effectively in the marketplace (greater accountability and performance differentiation, more innovation, etc.).

2. The introduction of a 4-point rating scale (“exceptional performance,” “significant performance,” “needs improvement,” and “unsatisfactory” to replace the 5-point scale) with a rating distribution guideline of 20-70-10 percent for each category, respectively (the last category of 10 percent includes both “needs improvement” and “unsatisfactory”). The new 4-point rating scale and distribution guidelines were put in place to help address the rating inflation problem.

3. A new incentive compensation plan that tied to the improved performance differentiation and ensured that those rated in the “top 20 percent” were receiving significantly higher compensation than those who did not.

4. A revised assessment of potential that utilized a combination of performance, performance drivers, position-specific competencies as criteria supported by a facilitated calibration roundtable process. This revised assessment of potential was also accompanied with a guideline that stated that no more than 20 to 25 percent (this guideline was set based on internal discussions regarding what was realistic as well as some external benchmarking done with outside companies) of managers in any given year were expected to be assessed as “ready” immediately for a promotion to the next-higher level and “ready within two years” for such a promotion.

Performance DriversSample Behaviors
Setting Clear Objectives with Results AccountabilityInvolves establishing high standards for performance, well- defined objectives and targets, and clear priorities for what must be accomplished and taking full personal responsibility for doing what it takes to deliver promised results. For people managers, it includes ensuring that direct reports understand what is expected of them and receive regular feedback on their performance as well as clearly differentiating between top and lower contributors when evaluating performance.
Coaching and Valuing PeopleInvolves treating people with dignity and respect at all times, demonstrating honesty and integrity in all dealings with others; ensuring that the highest quality people are being selected for the organization and are actively provided with opportunities to use their capabilities to contribute to the business as well as grow and develop their potential to do more in the future.
Strategic Focus and Business PlanningInvolves being able to develop an effective organizational business vision and strategy that are based on sound facts and that are well thought through, communicating them so that others understand and commit to them, and translating the vision and strategy into a clear overall work plan as well as into the individual goals and priorities that will guide and align the efforts of people at all levels of the organization.
Acting in the Best Interest of the SystemInvolves demonstrating consistent commitment to work together as a team to achieve the vision and what is in the best interest of the system. Shares information and resources with others to contribute to their success. Acts to break down silos or boundaries in order to help the business maximize the leverage from its combined resources.
Open CommunicationsInvolves demonstrating strong “listening for understanding skills” and valuing diverse opinions. Conveys information and ideas in an open, articulate, and timely manner that enables others to get their jobs done. Communicates in a highenergy, positive way that motivates people to achieve.
Embraces Change/ InnovationInvolves being open to new ideas and innovation and having not only the flexibility to adapt to change but also the energy and drive to initiate and lead it.

New System Roll-Out—Global vs. Local Emphasis  How this new system was rolled out globally reflected the balance between the global and local approaches to workforce management. When it was introduced at a global HR meeting in June 2003, it was clear that certain elements of the new system redesign were not suited for the foreign cultures and legal structures that existed in certain countries. As a result, all 119 countries were given latitude (labeled “freedom within the framework”) to make certain changes (for example, the labels given to the three rating categories), while they were not permitted to customize other aspects of the process (such as rating distribution guidelines or the use of performance drivers in the ratings). Providing this flexibility made a key difference in how well the new process was accepted by each country and, while many countries would have preferred to continue to use their own performance plans and processes, most willingly began the implementation of the new system and accepted the value of following the framework.

Results of Implementation  As with any major change that impacts employees’ individual performance ratings and compensation, the introduction of the new performance development system (PDS) was difficult and met some expected resistance. While this resistance was directed, in part, to specific concerns regarding particular changes made in the system (the number and labels for rating categories, changes in format, etc.), people’s reactions also reflected the reality that the revisions in the performance management process were designed to help drive what were believed to be some needed changes in the company’s management culture (enhanced accountability, greater differentiation in evaluating performance, increased emphasis on openness to change/innovation, etc.). At the same time, leaders of McDonald’s wanted to ensure that the focus on people and people development was not diminished.

The introduction of the new PDS system impacted significantly on the distribution of ratings for both performance and advancement potential. For example, in 2000 the vast majority of U.S.-based officers and managing directors received ratings (“outstanding” or “excellent”) that were above the mid-point (“good”) on the 5-point rating scale. In 2001, however, only 25 percent were given an “exceptional contributor” rating (this rating is for individuals who are judged to have “achieved results that far exceed expectations and requirements of the job in the face of challenging demands during the performance cycle and who have done so while modeling the values and behaviors expected of McDonald’s leaders”). Most individuals received a “significant contributor” rating (for “consistently meeting and perhaps exceeding some expectations and planned objectives while demonstrating the McDonald’s values and behaviors”) that was perceived to be average because it was the mid-point on a 3-point rating scale. For the first time in their careers, many managers (at the corporate officer and managing director levels) had received ratings that were not labeled “exceptional” or “outstanding,” and this was a shock and source of discomfort to them. In addition, a relatively small proportion of individuals were actually rated below the mid-point on the scale (“lower contributor/needs improvement” or “unacceptable performer”), which was highly unusual in McDonald’s culture. It should be noted, however, that the very year the new PDS was introduced, McDonald’s business performance was well below expectations and the stock price hit new lows. This softened the blow a bit, as managers could see that change was necessary and that McDonald’s was operating in a different world with new challenges that needed to be met in order to get the business turned around and once again moving in a positive direction.

As the new system has continued to be used, the proportion of individuals in each of the categories described above has stayed in a similar range. We have discovered along the way that it is a challenge to keep the distributions of individuals across performance rating categories consistent across levels of the organization. In other words, ratings creep seems to be a natural tendency as you move, for example, from the VP to the SVP level. What we have done to address this is to emphasize the importance of individuals being compared relative to those in the peer group at their specific level of the organization.

Ratings of Potential  Consistent with this more critical differentiation of performance, changes in distributions were also seen in the company’s ratings of individual potential for continued advancement. In 2001, approximately three-quarters of U.S.-based officers and managing directors had been rated as having the potential to be promoted at least one more level. With a much more critical and challenging succession planning review process instituted, 2002 ratings of this group’s future potential were far more realistic (the proportion evaluated as having clear potential for further advancement from their current officer-level positions was closer to 15 to 20 percent). This proportion has remained in this same relative range since that time.

Lessons Learned  While the process was difficult to do, our results would suggest that it’s sometimes easier to “bite the bullet” and make a significant change all at once rather than trying to make incremental changes. The PDS change enacted in 2001 effectively lowered the ratings of more than 50 percent of McDonald’s managers on a year-over-year basis. This was all done in a single year, but by year two, the organization had adapted to the new process. Other key lessons learned in implementing this initiative included the importance of: soliciting input from around the globe prior to program design finalization (the finalized system has been well accepted and has worked smoothly across widely varying geographic/cultural locations) and keeping the centralized, structured processes as simple as possible. Finally, we have purposefully given the organization time to become familiar with the new system and have resisted any significant “tweaking” of it. Some changes to further streamline the system continue to be made, but they have not been major.

Initiative 2: Global Succession Planning and Development Process

Design of the Global Talent Review Process  Prior to the launch of the current global talent review process, succession planning had been conducted at McDonald’s for many years. Prior to 2003, this process was less formal, less structured, and less consistent across various areas of the world, yet it probably met the needs of the business, which had an outstanding record of growth of profitability. As business growth slowed and competition increased, however, there was a recognized need to enhance the focus on leadership talent to align better with the new global business challenges.

Beginning in 2003 it was decided that the talent management process at the leadership level needed to be more rigorous and also more transparent. To achieve this rigor and transparency, the presidents of each area of the world (U.S., Europe, Asia/Pacific/ Middle East/Africa, and Latin America), along with each corporate staff head (EVP-HR, EVP-Finance/CFO), were given a talent management template that consisted of a series of questions about their leadership talent requirements and the depth and diversity of their talent (see  Exhibit 9.1 ). They were asked to prepare answers to these questions for their respective organizations. It was made clear that these questions would form the basis of the in-depth talent reviews that each of them would have with his or her immediate superior, who at that time was either the vice chair or the chief operating officer.

EXHIBIT 9.1.  Talent Review Template Questions

The talent reviews were held as planned in 2003 and resulted in a much more realistic and rigorous assessment of the “health” of the talent pools in each area of the world and each functional area than had been achieved previously within McDonald’s. The increased ownership that leaders were taking for the results of these reviews was reflected in the specific actions that they proactively initiated (such as accelerating the development of high-potential managers, special recruiting initiatives, etc.) to respond to the current and anticipated replacement gaps that had surfaced. The HR support team was able to analyze the overall results of these reviews and look for any organization-wide interventions that would contribute to better addressing talent needs and gaps.

Talent Review Process Impact  Results of the one-year follow-up survey with executive management and HR leaders in each of the company’s four major regions yielded the following observations regarding improvements in the talent review process: (1) managers and the organization overall became much more aware of the strengths and talent gaps in each area; (2) more candid and more challenging discussions took place on talent and not only focused more crisply on strengths and development needs but also more effectively addressed when it was time to remove individuals from positions in which they are not performing and not developing; (3) more specific actions were being planned and taken to close replacement gaps and development talent in a more focused way; and (4) senior executives were placing greater overall priority on and taking personal ownership for talent management.

Metrics for Assessing Quantitative Impacts  In addition to the qualitative feedback described above, a number of quantitative metrics are currently being used to assess the impact of the talent review process. These include tracking:

• The number of officers/managing directors considered to be strong contributors and evidence that those “not meeting expectations” have specific development plans in place and/or have been replaced;

• The number of key leadership positions for which there is at minimum one “ready now” and one “ready future” replacement;

• Improved year-over-year diversity in the talent pool;

• The retention rate for strong performers and high-potentials; and

• The percentage of recommended developmental job moves (these are identified in the talent reviews ) that have actually occurred within the planned timeframe.

As the process has continued to be used, the organization has done a better and better job each year of not only building up feeder pools (that are deeper and more diverse) but also with addressing issues with lower performers.

Next Steps for Talent Review  While the process has not changed for the most part, it has been done in a more comprehensive manner each year. This includes doing a more in-depth analysis of who needs development, moves to enhance their experience, and a process that facilitates this movement. In 2006 we introduced comprehensive talent management plans at the major country level, which enabled us to roll-up the country plans into areas of the world plans and finally to an overall enterprise talent plan that is presented to our board of directors.

Our current CEO, upon his appointment, declared talent management and leadership development as one of his top three priorities, and the focus on this process has never been greater. Senior management has expressed a strong desire to spend more time in this arena, and they realize that to successfully develop their talent, they must depend on their peers to provide development job opportunities (special assignments, project teams, new jobs) that cannot be provided unless people are able to move more freely across organizational boundaries.

Additional Positive Impacts  One additional result of the analysis that was part of the talent review process was the decision to develop a global executive staffing process designed to ensure that when an opening occurred for an officer or managing director role anywhere in the world, potential candidates could be identified on a global rather than a local basis. Prior to 2003, there had been no formal process for identifying talent globally, but rather the organization with the opening would identify candidates based on their own knowledge of qualifications which, more often than not, led to a local candidate being selected. With the new global staffing process, the organization with the opening can come to the talent management organization for a list of candidates who have been identified via the talent reviews described above. As a result of this new process, there has been more cross-organizational movement that has resulted in better selections and also more development opportunities for those moving to these assignments.

A second additional impact driven by the results of a more robust global talent review process was the decision to design a program to build up the depth and diversity of the replacement pools for several officer/MD roles and to expedite the development of the highest potentials for these roles. The global Leadership at McDonald’s Program (LAMP) was designed and is described below as the third major initiative to enhance McDonald’s Global Workforce Management System.

Overall, the executive talent review process introduced in 2003 has not only stepped up the focus on talent management at the leadership level, but has made it more of an ongoing process, versus the episodic process that it had been previously. Our leaders all consider talent management as a high, if not their highest, priority. It’s less about a binder being constructed once a year and then put aside for another year and more about working the talent issue on an ongoing basis. It is also clear that by starting the process at the “top of the house” and having it accepted as useful and necessary, the process has been more easily implemented down through the other management layers across the organization and regions.

Specific Design Considerations  Based on what had been learned in global talent reviews and in earlier training programs directed at developing high-potentials within McDonald’s, several particular areas of competency/skill gaps had been identified and were specifically targeted in the design of LAMP content. These included: (1) expanding participants’ mindset from local to regional to global; (2) enhancing participants’ ability to maximize business performance through strengthening financial acumen; and (3) enhancing participants’ innovative, “out of the box” thinking. From an organizational perspective the goals of the program included: (1) building deeper bench strength for key leadership positions; (2) shortening the ramp-up time required for newly promoted officers and obtaining quicker business results; (3) becoming more effective at developing and retaining top talent; and (4) continuing to improve the diversity profile at the officer level.

The Leadership at McDonald’s Program (LAMP) was designed to be an integrated approach to developing high-potential talent. Using leadership development as a process to drive results, shape culture, and build leadership depth, the program accelerates the development of future leaders. With a focus on strengthening and building the capabilities of McDonald’s future leaders, the program leverages leadership development to improve performance and drive business results by:

• Increasing the ability of participants to improve business results in their current roles as well as prepare them for achieving success at the next level;

• Leveraging participants’ on-the-job accountabilities as opportunities to learn and develop;

• Helping participants gain the insight needed to further develop individual leadership capabilities; and

• Providing opportunities to build strong peer networks internally and externally by having them work closely with McDonald’s high-potential peers throughout the program and with talented management peers from other companies/industries as part of the Thunderbird Program.

Participation  The program was piloted in 2003-2004 with an initial group of twenty high-potential directors who were nominated by their regional, divisional, or functional leadership teams. Selection criteria included:

• Individuals considered “ready now” or “ready future” for positions at the vice-president level or higher based on results from the McDonald’s annual talent review process;

• Succession plan gaps (priority for participation given to functions with a shortage of successors or other business priorities, such as improving the diversity profile at the officer level); and

• Participant and boss willingness to fully commit and participate throughout the nine-month-long program.

Group Sessions  LAMP was designed to help participants drive results in two ways: vertically (as leaders of their respective departments) and horizontally (as leadership team members). The first LAMP program had five key program components. These included: (1) executive assessment and program orientation; (2) individual development planning and executive dialogues; (3) leadership modules focused on leadership of self, team, and organization with experiential exercises to reinforce the learning; (4) a two-week executive education program with a focus on global business and culture; and (5) business improvement recommendations presented to the chairman’s and presidents’ councils. These original program components are described in greater detail in  Table 9.4 . All of the sessions were held at the company’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, with the exception of the two-week executive education component that was held at a university campus.

Individual Learning Opportunities  Based on the assessment results, participants consulted with individual coaches to develop a “breakthrough business goal”—one that could truly drive business results in their areas of responsibility. Critical to this process was the linkage of personal developmental objectives to higher levels of business results. The assessment process and feedback to participants helped identify the competencies needed to enhance their contributions to the business. The development needs were then linked to the individual’s breakthrough goal. To support and encourage individual learning, the following was made available to participants: (1) individual coaching and development support—each participant was assigned a coach to discuss progress against objectives and receive objective feedback and developmental coaching throughout the program; and (2) LAMP Online!—a web-based tool that supports individual learning, facilitates dialogues about the business, and tracks the progress being made against the LAMP goals and key deliverables.

Program SessionSession DescriptionLength
Program Orientation and Executive AssessmentMcDonald’s contracted with a leading assessment firm to deliver the assessment process over a three-and-one- half-day period. The assessment process included the following: (1) inventories of thinking skills, personality, work style, and interests; (2) 360-degree feedback; (3) realistic work and business simulations, with immediate feedback provided after the role play or simulation; and (4) background interviews. In addition to the assessment process, participants received detailed information on the LAMP leadership framework, program goals, and key deliverables. They also had the opportunity to dialogue with senior executives. Upon completion of the assessment process, verbal feedback was provided to the participants by their assessors/coaches. A detailed written summary was provided approximately three weeks later.4 days
Individual Development Planning and Executive DialogueDuring this session, participants received the written summaries from the assessment process. Utilizing these results, participants worked one-on-one with their bosses and coaches to create a development plan focused on driving results in their areas of the business. Utilizing a custom development plan template, participants identified the experiences, coaching, and training required to achieve their goals. In addition, two executive dialogues during this session provided an opportunity to learn more about the business and leadership through direct interaction with senior McDonald’s leaders.2 days
Executive Dialogue and External Thought LeaderLAMP participants had another opportunity to dialogue with senior leaders during this session. A large portion of time during this session was devoted to building knowledge and skills around the critical components of high-performing teams. A number of experiential exercises were utilized to enable the participants to apply and practice their learnings as they began to form their sub-teams responsible for developing and delivering a “business improvement recommendation” to the executive councils.2.5 days
Executive Education ProgramThe university consortia program brings together select groups of non-competing, globally focused companies. Each consortium program is two weeks in length and custom developed in consultation with representatives from each member firm. The university offers participants the opportunity to gain a broad understanding of global strategic issues and to strengthen their general management skills. Learning is reinforced through discussions, case studies, exercises, and simulations.2 weeks
Business Improvement RecommendationsThis session focused primarily on a large team review and feedback session for each of the four sub-team’s business improvement recommendations. Significant time was devoted to letting the sub-teams continue to develop their recommendations, with feedback, support, and coaching from an external expert in executive communications. An executive dialogue was also incorporated into this session.2 days
Presenting Team Recommendations and Program Wrap-UpAt the conclusion of LAMP (February 2004), participants presented their business improvement recommendations to the executive leadership councils, comprised of approximately twelve senior-most executives of McDonald’s. Teams made presentations to the council members and discussed the overall impact of the program on their personal development and on their individual business results. Support from coaches, dry runs of the presentations, and group dialogue and feedback around each team’s presentation helped participants prepare for the presentations.

Over the past eight years, McDonald’s has taken a number of significant steps to enhance its ability to develop leadership talent and ensure greater management continuity throughout its talent management system. This chapter has described five major initiatives that have been designed and implemented to enhance the system. These included a major re-design of the company’s global performance development system, a significant enhancement of the global succession planning and development process, the design and implementation of a customized leadership development program targeted to developing high-potentials at the officer level (LAMP), and, finally, the introduction of the McDonald’s Leadership Institute and the Global Leadership Development Program. In addition to the specific positive impacts on internal metrics that have already been described (increased strength and diversity in the leadership team, greater depth/ diversity in candidates ready now for advancement, and retention of key performers), as of December 2008, McDonald’s had posted sixty-five consecutive months of positive comparable sales—the longest run in McDonald’s history—and the stock price hit an all-time high in September 2008. What the overall process described in this chapter has demonstrated is how broad-scale initiatives to develop talent—when top management owns and drives them and human resources plays the roles of partner/enabler—can be a powerful lever of culture building and change and make a valuable contribution to business success.

James Intagliata, Ph.D., is president and founder of The NorthStar Group, a management consulting firm that specializes in senior-level executive assessment, individual leadership coaching, and competency-modeling for culture change. Over the past twenty years he has consulted to a diverse group of companies and senior executives and has worked extensively with McDonald’s. In addition to his consulting work, he has held faculty positions at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the University of Missouri at Kansas City and taught organizational theory and management at the graduate level. He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1976 from the State University of New York at Buffalo. His recently published articles include “Leveraging Leadership Competencies to Produce Leadership Brand: Creating Distinctiveness by Focusing on Strategy and Results” (with co-authors Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood) in Human Resources Planning; “McDonald’s Corporation: A Customized Leadership Development Program Targeted to Prepare Future Regional Managers” (with co-author David Small) in Best Practices in Organization Development and Change by Louis Carter and Best Practice Institute.

Neal Kulick, Ph.D., has been McDonald’s vice president of global talent management since 2001. His responsibilities include executive assessment/development, executive recruitment, and succession management and planning. From 1999 to 2001 Dr. Kulick ran his own organizational consulting practice specializing in the areas of human resource effectiveness and leadership development. Prior to consulting, he served as VP of corporate human resources for Ameritech Corporation in Chicago and as a line operations manager at Michigan Bell Telephone Company in Detroit.

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