How McDonald’s Don Thompson could have saved his job

How McDonald’s Don Thompson could have saved his job

Don Thompson announced he would retire as McDonald’s president and CEO after less than three years at the helm. Thompson is being blamed for almost all of the fast-food chain’s troubles. What if Thompson had given his employees more tools to work with, such as the ‘success triangle,’ which asks whether a company has a clear vision that employees are capable of achieving? If I were a McDonald’s employee, I would wonder exactly what that mission means for my job? It’s necessary to make clear the precise change desired at the granular level for each employee. How can managers do that? For starters, they must let the employee know what they are doing right that they need to do more of; what they are doing wrong that they need to change; what they are doing too much of that they should be doing less of.

Is the success triangle more difficult to embed in a business like McDonald’s? I would say no. Independent franchisees are just another constituency accountable for minimum standards, and the franchisee’s employees are motivated to achieve the CEO’s vision and capable of doing so. If Thompson didn’t use clear, capable and motivated thinking, then it’s time for a new leader.

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Edward G. Brown is an expert in corporate culture and behavior change. His sales and leadership programs has assisted Fortune 500 companies around the world.


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