OK – I know the Golden Arches have served billions and billions, and yeah, maybe there is some evidence that eating there every day might not be the best way to a rock star body, but McDonalds helped me be great at every job since I hung up my apron and wiped off my flipper.
If you’ve worked under the Golden Arches, I’m willing to bet that you know exactly what I mean. People comment about it when they see it on your resume, and there’s a pretty good chance that they served a fry or two. If not, I would love this opportunity to share with you a few quick tips that I learned on how to be successful. Caution – parts of what follows will be written in McDonaldese. Babelfish isn’t able to translate it yet, but if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re smart enough to get the gist.
If it’s not right, don’t serve it.
This still applies in pretty much every work environment that I’ve been in. In an espresso bar, if a shot is pulled wrong, it’s better to throw it out and make a new one than it is to serve a sub-standard latte. In an office, if you try and make a report fit into a narrow definition of the facts, your boss – or worse, your client – will read it, and the sheer crappiness of the document will stand out more than anything else. Good enough rarely is good enough.
Train, train, train
The best part about training someone is you pretty much have to know what you’re doing in the first place. It shouldn’t be looked at as a burden or an inconvenience – if you are asked to show someone how to do your job, it should be taken as a compliment. The better the person that you train does, the better you look for doing a great job of training them. Help them be successful by explaining how and why you do the processes you are showing them.
The other part about training – don’t wait for someone to tell you what to learn. Be proactive. If something is interesting, learn it. The more you know about your coworkers jobs, the better you will be at your job.
Aces in their places
Having the right people on the right job is critical to the success of every business. In a crunch, you want to have your go-to people in the role they are best suited for. This might seem a bit contradictory to the previous section; the key is knowing when it’s crunch time. Throwing the newest salesman into a mission critical meeting isn’t good for them or for the business. But there are other meetings that they can use to develop their skills, and this can help build them up to make them the rainmakers on your team.
Have fun while you work
When you enjoy what you are doing, it will show through in the work you produce. This sounds cliché, but think back to the projects that you have worked on recently. The projects that you liked working on the most, were they the ones that looked the best? If you aren’t having fun at work, take a look around to find out why that is. What can you do to change the situation? And if you aren’t happy, why haven’t you changed anything? Are you waiting for someone else to do it?
A good plan = a great shift
Making the hard stuff look easy is the sign of a true expert. Having a plan is the first step to get you to expert status. Think about all of the components of your lunch rush, your task, your day; and then check to make sure everything is setup properly for you to sail right through it. It doesn’t matter if it’s making sure there are enough fries ready to be cooked or enough product in the warehouse ready to be shipped. Having a plan will help you have a great day. Try it – you’ll like it.
If you’ve ever had to “smoke out the back end” and you know what a grill order is, I hope this brought back a few good memories. If you are wondering why you’re awesome at work – hopefully this provides you with an answer. But if the only times you’ve been to the Golden Arches is to satisfy an immediate hunger pang (or to stave off the world’s worst hangover), then maybe you will think twice about denigrating those folks that started out flipping burgers. Just remember, it’s not where you start that’s important, it’s what you learn that makes the difference.
And – just for fun, here are a few well known folks that worked at McDonalds before becoming a little bit famous (courtesy of AOL money):
Andrew Card (twice even – first in high school, and later on to support his wife and child. Not bad for the man that would become George W’s Chief of Staff!)
Jeff Bezos (he only went on to found Amazon.com…do you really need more examples?)
And one last thing that I learned at McD’s – smiles should always be free!