Lesson #2: You’re Only As Good As The People You Hire

“None of us is as good as all of us,” Kroc would say. A strong proponent of teamwork, Kroc understood that his growing company could only continue its meteoric rise up if it had the support and the dedication of its workers behind it. In order to ensure staff loyalty and motivate his employees, Kroc did his best to guarantee that they were treated with respect and were able to operate on an equal playing field.

In the early stages of the business, Kroc personally took charge of the entire hiring process. Once he had made the decision to bring someone on board the McDonald’s team, Kroc would give each and every one of them a badge with the title of Management Trainee. It didn’t matter what their actual job was; Kroc wanted every employee to feel valuable and like an important part of the team. Kroc would then tell his workers to think of a better way to do their job or of any improvements that could be made in customer service, which could then be written down and placed into a Suggestion Box.

The effect of this was that it made McDonald’s employees, especially the new ones think that they were on their way up within the company. Even if you were just a janitor, as a Management Trainee you could feel like you were an important part of the management team. Kroc praised his workers and promoted them accordingly. In return, the majority of McDonald’s employees would love showing up to work every day and would deliver better service with a smile, which was a crucial component of Kroc’s strategy. “McDonald's is a people business, and that smile on that counter girl's face when she takes your order is a vital part of our image,” said Kroc.

Kroc’s Suggestion Box wasn’t just a means to make his workers feel like they were valued. Rather, Kroc would use the ideas given to him by his staff to try and improve the business. Indeed, many of McDonald’s most successful products all started with innovations that came from the bottom up. The Happy Meal, for instance, which has become one of the chain’s trademarks and most successful products, was the result of ideas generated from people working within one of the McDonald’s restaurants. Kroc understood that since he was relatively removed from the daily operations of the chain and its customers, some of the best ideas were bound to be those that came from the people who were actually in charge of what was going on inside the four walls of his restaurants.

“The success of additions such as the Filet-o-Fish, the Big Mac, Hot Apple Pie and Egg McMuffin…each evolved from an idea of one of our operators,” said Kroc. “So the company has benefited from the ingenuity of its small businessmen.” Kroc saw his staff, as well as his franchisees as his own internal customers and did his best to ensure that they too were equally as satisfied as the external customers they served.

It was by embracing innovation, fostering a sense of teamwork, and rewarding hard work that Kroc ensured his workers were on board 100% towards achieving his dreams.

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