Friday, January 20, 2012

What I Learned at McDonald's

My first management job was at the W. Sycamore McDonald's when I was 19 years old. That was back when they had snazzy 100% polyester uniforms; tres chic!

The store manager was Scott (Dana) Sutton. His leadership marked me in profound ways that stick with me today. Allow me to share some "Sutton-isms."

1. "Don't make your best hamburger cooker a manager!"
This is about gifting and this is a mistake we see all over the workforce landscape from fast food restaurants to the NFL. Cooks and managers have different skill sets; being great at one may have nothing to do with the other.

The world needs both. Every organization need people who excel at every level. How many times do we see great assistant/position coaches in the NFL get promoted to Head Coach only to fail miserably? (e.g. Wade Phillips, Dom Capers, Steve Spagnola) If you're a great hamburger cooker, be the best at it!

Know who you are. Find out your strengths and use them. Don't aspire to be someone you're not and don't let someone else put you in a position to be who you aren't. 

2. "Keep your car clean."
This came from a situation where a new District Mgr came in and didn't like one of the great local managers because he thought he was a slob. Scott said, "All he has to do is clean up his car and take the new D.M. for a ride in it."

This may sound silly but simple things like how we keep our car makes an impact on people. People will draw conclusions about us based on how we keep our car, our home, our desk, our clothes etc. This is human nature. And guess what? How we take care of these mundane areas of our life does reflect who we are and how together or not-together we are.

3. "You running the shift or is the shift running you?"
This was a common question asked of inexperienced mgrs. But it's a great question. The question reveals that how things are going isn't happenstance or fate or flukes; it's based on our command (or lack of command) of the situation.

And this isn't just about shifts. Try these out:
You running your life or is life running you?
You running your schedule or is your schedule running you?
You running your kids or are your kids running you?
You running your finances or are your finances running you?

This is about taking responsibility, not excuses. You can do it!

4. "If I don't goof off once in a while, you'll never want my job, then I'll be stuck with it forever."
He would always say that in jest but it's deeper than that. We should perform our jobs in such a manner and attitude that someone would aspire to it. Seriously, if we're complaining and being negative, who would want our job? Who would want to move up in the organization?

It revealed that with rank come privileges; which is good! And it also paved the way for possibility. It let us know he didn't want that job forever and that his job was preparing us to take his someday. It's a statement of succession. Every organization needs people grooming people to move up.

Who can you help prepare to move up? Who can help you move up?

Big thanks to Scott (Dana) Sutton: a straight shooting pull-no-punches manager who did a great job of building into young punks like me ;-)