The Role of Organizational Behavior and Leadership in McDonald's Corporation

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Managing people entails a range of activities that are aimed at increasing employees’ productivity. Organizational behavior and leadership are one of the key areas of managing people which have a direct impact on productivity. Organizational behavior refers to the study of what people believe what they feel, think and do in their workplaces. Leadership refers to the process of influencing employees’ activities towards the achievement of organizational objectives. This study will critically analyze organizational behavior and leadership theories applied in McDonald’s Corporation in relation to employee’s productivity.

McDonald's is a global fast food retailer which was started in 1964. The company is among the leading fast food firms in the planet, serving approximately 69 million customers in a day, at different locations. The company has employed thousands of employees in various continents, raising the need for excellent people management. The availability of information about the corporation and its competitive nature makes it an ideal area of study for this research.

Critical Evaluation of the Company’s Leadership

According to Pearce et al. (2008, p.624), leadership is the skill of doing right things coupled with excellent social intelligence. The history of McDonald’s started with its CEOs who are talented personnel that continues to build the legacy of the company on the foundation of customer satisfaction, through rights services and products. The company had become a wholesale firm during the reign of James A. Skinner, which was one of the principles that helped it respond to the stiff competition in the fast foods industry, (Pearce et al. 2008, p.276). It was during this tenure that the company also started focusing on healthy eating. Significant acquisitions took place which resulted in a tripled stock price of the company. Mr. Skinner retired after serving for 33 years and was succeeded by James R. Cantalupo who passed away due to heart attack and was replaced by Charles Bell who had to resign after some time due to a cancer diagnosis. The three leaders used ‘the play to win’ strategy which helped in revitalizing the company.

The company has a succession plan in place, which has helped it earn a competitive advantage in the industry. The leaders understand the succession strategy and learn from each other so that once succession takes place, the company continue to run smoothly. The fact that leaders understand the strategies that the others adopt has led to a culture of continuous improvement. This strategy has influenced most global business leaders. For instance, James Noel, Steve Drotter and Ram Charan stated that companies should come up with their leadership thoughts and describe how they should hone and define employees’ skills towards organizational growth, (Charan et al. 2010, p.34).

The company operates a 24/7 business through which it has been able to meet the high demand for its products. The functions of the managers are significant to the company’s revenue. They are focused on the division of labor, coordination, and control of duties. The managers use a collaborative approach which has been connecting the global franchises under a single brand name. The management also encourages the working together of franchises to help each other offer the best to its customers. The culture of the firm is reflected in the fresh food and quality customer services, a product of good leadership, (Bowdich et al. 2011, p.6).

Situational leadership theory states that leaders should adopt new leadership strategies depending on the situation at hand and the needs of their subordinates. This is similar to the contingency theory which advocates for the need to earn the willingness of the subordinates, (Pearce et al. 2007, p.233). Contingency theory requires leaders to decide on the tasks that they want to manage by examining the willingness of individuals and determining the leadership style that they should use to control performance of the task. McDonald’s management emphasizes a collaborative approach and teamwork to offer the quality services to the customers. This has helped leaders to reinvigorate and enhance employees’ efficiency. Any struggling team is typically helped to realize its goals which motivate the teams to collaborate. This is an evidence of relationship behavior towards the staff.

One of the leaders, Steve Easterbrook, was tasked with the responsibility of making the company a rapidly growing restaurant in the UK, through special offerings and trendy fast-foods. He is an outstanding man-manager with the zest to drive the organization forward. He leads with front culture and passion towards both the customers and the employees. He is a leader that does the right things, a trait that was advocated by Peter Drucker’s quote, (Pearson et al. 2007, p. 274). Mr. Easterbrook revamped the company’s menu in 2006 which increased the company’s revenue with a clear look. He was always defending McDonald’s image. For instance, he needed to be on the defensive when some campaigners claimed that the company’s products were unhealthy. Most leaders in McDonald’s are promoted from junior levels, which ensure that they have an understanding of the organization’s processes. This enables them to run the firm smoothly, giving the necessary guidance to the employees, (Luthans 2002, p.86).

The company has adopted various leadership strategies which have allowed it maintain the rank of one of the best corporations globally. It has approximately 400, 000 employees who work under the influence of the leadership philosophy; to be successful in future, management and leadership are required at all the levels of the organization, (McCord et al. 2007, p.700). All employees are therefore expected to represent the company’s values and also demonstrate leadership at all the levels. The leadership strategy of the company entails the following four areas (Boje and Rhodes 2006, p.99): managing and leading the company dynamic and rapidly changing the environment, developing a continuous improvement and creative organizational culture, adopting processes that will sustain the company’s future and joining with others for the completion of the work. To drive the vision, leaders have developed standards and metrics that help sustain the organization in the competitive world. Employees’ skills are improved continuously through training and development which takes place in the company’s universities, (George et al. 2002, p.127). The training programs have instructions that benefit the productivity of all employees, including the executive team. The main aim is to deliver characteristic connection between leadership development and business strategy.

A Critical Analysis of McDonald’s Organizational Behavior

This study will consider the impact of McDonald’s structure, teams, and individuals on the behavioral aspect of the company. To be able to analyze the behavior of the people who work and relate to the company, this study will consider McDonald’s corporate and work culture, as well as employee’s motivation.

Work and Corporate Culture

Herzberg’s two-factor theory, excellent working conditions increase employees’ satisfaction, (Cark and Carmeli 2009, p. 788). McDonald’s strive to ensure low employee turnover even at the junior levels. This is because happy and cheerful employees serve customers well, leading to repeated sales. The company’s working culture is highly dependent upon the responsibilities of the line managers. Since the company’s training is not only offered to the high-expertise positions only, it is possible to strengthen and spread the culture downward and horizontally. According to a study conducted by Ng et al. (2012, p.17), the pillar of McDonald’s culture is its people. The company believes in investing in talents and developing them. It, therefore, recruits and maintains the best employees at all levels.

The managers do not have any strong vertical barriers between themselves and the employees. In most cases, managers are seen working in a machine like a manner, especially during peak hours. Rather than using their position to only tell employees what to do, they are in most cases indistinguishable from the other employees. Some of them use a selling approach that indicates high readiness from the whole team. They place great importance on the employees’ well-being, whereby most of them are concerned with their emotional, social and physical well-being. Employees achieve high levels of fulfillment through recognition and motivation at McDonald’s (Griffin and Moorhead 2011, p. 112).

Motivating Factors

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy need theory, employees can be motivated by meeting their needs at the following five levels: physiological, safety, love and belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization. As a way of obliging everyone, McDonald’s offers flexible shifts timings. The flexibility allows employees to balance their careers and their personal life. However, there are a few employees who prefer full-time, which is possible through the standard day shift. The company meets the physiological needs of its staff through the flexible shifts, which allows some to work only when school closes, on weekends, etcetera (Adler and Gundersen 2007, p.143).

The company has also ensured that its employees work in a safe environment. Also, they are provided with the safety gears that are required to perform their various tasks as well as the required knowledge through training. However, there is no evidence for fringe benefits accrued from working in the company or job security assurance, (Glynn and DeJordy 2010, p. 134).

Both vertical and horizontal communication is practiced in the company. Supervisors communicate effectively with their subordinates as well as other supervisors. It is worth noting that the company values employees’ feedback, and therefore collects it regularly. The ability of employees’ views and ideas to be communicated uninhibitedly is evidence of the fact that the employees are valued. Communication also builds excellent trust and relationship between employees and the managers. This offers employees a sense of affection and belonging. Moreover, the flexible shifts allow employees to create extra time for their families and friends.

The employees work in teams, whereby every worker depends on a particular team and has his or her tasks to concentrate on, (Hersey et al. 2007, p. 105). Therefore, if one employees delays in delivering their services, the whole team becomes less profitable. Human beings are social beings who like relating with others. Placing them in teams, therefore, motivates them to achieve more through dedication. It makes the employees be more in charge of their teams since they wouldn’t want to see them fail. Whenever the firm attains its organizational goals, the teams have a sense of accomplishment which motivates them to be more productive. The sense of accomplishment also helps in boosting the workers’ self-esteem, since they need to make their own choices as a team.

Exposing workers to critical thinking regarding the company’s issues helps them in attaining self-actualization, the highest need according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, (Robins et al. 2003, p.33). Employees are offered the chance for self-development through continuous training. Hamburger University serves a significant role through training employees, which leads to an increase in employees’ self-confidence. They also get the chance to realize a better way of doing their work, hence upgrading their aptitudes. A large part of McDonald’s employees comprises of students who gain experience as they offer their services, hence earning a feeling of accomplishment.

According to a study conducted by Schermerhorn et al. (2000, p.25), McDonald’s is an ideal employer for many people. This is because the work is generally not stressful. The study confirmed that even during peak hours of lunchtime and dinner, employees did not appear stressed. On occasions when there was a lull, they were seen cleaning their stations, get a drink or chat with their fellow employees. The observer found out that the employees were very relaxed and not afraid of their supervisors. Scholars have consistently confirmed if employees fear their bosses, their trust and communication is weakened, which is a demotivating factor, (Greenberg and Baron 2003, p. 16).

The social opportunity provided by the job is a significant motivator for employees at all levels. The employees relate to their leaders as well as other employees in a very casual manner. This allows them to share and develop a friendship at their workplaces. Employees who work during evening shifts are mostly high school students who get a chance to make new friends and develop interpersonal skills. As mentioned earlier, the company offers flexible shifts, which accommodates anyone. The employees are therefore from different cultures and different backgrounds, which gives them an opportunity to interact and share ideas.

Another motivating factor is the availability of growth opportunities at various levels. As mentioned earlier, most managers are promoted from junior levels. This means that as an employee stays for many years in the company, delivering the best, his or her chances of advancing to an assistant manager position increases. The continuous training also gives the employees the ability to seize growth opportunities as they present themselves.

Conclusion

McDonald is a decent and fast restaurant that an ideal employee would want to work for. This is because it has excellent leadership and organizational behavior. The leaders are trained to interact with the junior employees in a way that creates minimum vertical barriers, hence promoting communication. Also, continuous training is conducted for all employees, regardless of their position. The company has adopted a culture that leads to the satisfaction of the five motivation needs that are specified by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The flexible shifts, social opportunities and growth opportunities presented by the company motivate employees to deliver their best. It is evident that good leadership coupled with excellent organizational behavior are some of the critical factors that facilitate productivity at McDonald’s. Organizations should learn from this and adopt the skills as mentioned above as a way of maintaining a competitive advantage and sustained profitability..

References

Boje, D.M. and Rhodes, C., 2006. The leadership of Ronald McDonald: Double narration and stylistic lines of transformation. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(1), pp.94-103.

Charan, R., Drotter, S. and Noel, J., 2010. The leadership pipeline: How to build the leadership powered company (Vol. 391). John Wiley & Sons.

Glynn, M.A. and DeJordy, R., 2010. Leadership through an organization behavior lens. Handbook of leadership theory and practice, pp.119-157.

Greenberg, J. and Baron, R.A., 2003. Behavior in organizations: Understanding and managing the human side of work. Pearson College Division.

Hersey, P., Blanchard, K.H. and Johnson, D.E., 2007. Management of organizational behavior (Vol. 9). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice hall.

Kark, R. and Carmeli, A., 2009. Alive and creating: The mediating role of vitality and aliveness in the relationship between psychological safety and creative work involvement. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30(6), pp.785-804.

McCord, J.H., McDonald, R., Leverson, G., Mahvi, D.M., Rikkers, L.F., Chen, H.C. and Weber, S.M., 2007. Motivation to pursue surgical subspecialty training: is there a gender difference?. Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 205(5), pp.698-703.

Ng, E., Lyons, S.T. and Schweitzer, L. eds., 2012. Managing the new workforce: International perspectives on the millennial generation. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Pearce, C.L., Conger, J.A. and Locke, E.A., 2007. Shared leadership theory. The leadership quarterly, 18(3), pp.281-288.

Pearce, C.L., Conger, J.A. and Locke, E.A., 2008. Shared leadership theory. The Leadership Quarterly, 19(5), pp.622-628.

Robbins, S.P., Judge, T. and Breward, K., 2003. Essentials of organizational behavior (Vol. 7). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall

Schermerhorn, J.R., Hunt, J.G. and Osborn, R.N., 2000. Organizational behavior. John Wiley & Sons Inc., New York.

Griffin, R.W. and Moorhead, G., 2011. Organizational behavior. Cengage Learning

Adler, N.J. and Gundersen, A., 2007. International dimensions of organizational behavior. Cengage Learning.

Bowditch, J.L., Buono, A.F. and Stewart, M.M., 2001. A primer on organizational behavior. New York, NY: Wiley.

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George, J.M., Jones, G.R. and Sharbrough, W.C., 2002. Understanding and managing organizational behavior.

January 19, 2024
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Company Organization

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