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Leadership's Future: About Work, Opportunity And Respect

by Miki Saxon

Would you like to work for a company where the 401K matching on 5% of salary is as much as 11%? Where you can become a manager earning $62,000 plus bonus and company car with no college degree, no Union, no trade—nothing but hard work.

Of course, you’ll have to put up with snickers and even scorn if you mention your job in public.

All of that is what’s available to the 6,700 managers at company-owned McDonald’s restaurants.

“While an average McDonald’s grosses $2.2 million a year, seasoned managers who motivate employees and keep customers coming back can add more than $200,000 to that total.“Restaurant managers are in the most important position in our company,” says Richard Floersch, McDonald’s chief human resources officer.”

Moreover, with corporate culture being recognized as the moving force behind corporate performance, why is it that articles about changing culture in major corporations employing mostly skilled, well-paid workers, such as IBM, are met with serious discussion, while changing it in major corporations with mostly minimum wage earners, such as McDonalds, is marked down as hype?

Why was a cultural change at IBM seen as key to the company’s survival, but instilling pride in the workers at McDonalds, Taco Bell and KFC is viewed as hype, Raising spirits is cheaper than raising salaries.”

Why do we expect young people to take pride in their first ‘real’ job, or care about the customer, when they were laughed at for the same attitudes/actions in their minimum wage job?

Why does our society denigrate those who work low-paying jobs, when they are honest, hardworking, raise families and even pay taxes, which is more than you can say for their wealthier counterparts?

In the same vein, why is the four-year grad, with a degree paid for by mom and dad, considered a better candidate than the one who took longer working ‘non-professional’ jobs to pay for the same degree from the same school?

Maybe companies need to wake up. No matter what their family’s economic status, I haven’t seen the same high sense of entitlement in kids who spent their summers working in average and minimum wage jobs as I have in the ones who worked frequently overpaid jobs for their parents or didn’t work at all.

How far can you really rise when you start on the counter? Ask Karen King, President of McDonald’s USA East Division.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink what we, the people, look down on and what earns respect.

Your comments—priceless

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Image credit: sxc.hu

5 Responses to “Leadership's Future: About Work, Opportunity And Respect”
  1. Wally BockNo Gravatar Says:

    Great post, Miki. Two things hit my hot buttons.

    The last time we were together, my friend Tim and I were talking about how manual labor of any kind seems devalued in the US today. Tim’s father was a millwright, “The King of the Shop” as Tim says. He was the master of machines and processes and techniques that dwarf what most MBAs bring out of school. But because he worked with his hands, he never had the kind of respect that the young college graduate trainee gets.

    When I was responsible for hiring management trainees years ago, I discovered that grades and degrees and schools didn’t tell me much. What I looked for where two things. Could a prospect write? If not, there was no need to go farther. The other thing I looked for was actual work experience. I found that the young people who’d worked brought something to the party that was valuable

  2. Miki SaxonNo Gravatar Says:

    Thanks, Wally. It is sad, but even manual labor such as machinist receives far more respect than a counter worker at McDonald’s—although that’s not saying much.

    It’s a good thing that you aren’t hiring today if writing was your make/break criteria; I doubt you could fill more than 2-3 positions a year.

    And I certainly do agree about the work experience—back then. These days I tell my clients to look more carefully behind the job. Experience from positions gained through parents or friends’ influence is often worth less than that from a lower level job for which the candidate had to compete.

  3. MAPping Company Success Says:

    […] Bock left a comment today on a post at Leadership Turn. In part it […]

  4. LelaNo Gravatar Says:

    Such a great post. I’m not sure what really instills work ethic in a person, but without it we’re all doomed. I think it starts when kids are really small. I notice young children treating cashiers and other service workers as if they’re not even there. If you don’t respect the position, you’re always going to think you’re too good for it. Creating an educated society is wonderful, but we need to figure out a way to do it without devaluing the lower paid – highly necessary – service positions. All executives ought to start in the mailroom, or the counter, or the factory floor.

  5. Miki SaxonNo Gravatar Says:

    Hi Lela, You hit the nail on the head. Kids learn from watching their elders—remember the old line “monkey see, monkey do?”

    If parents actually bothered correcting the little darlings things might change, but they are too concerned with damaging the little darlings’ ego to say anything. After all, if you are ‘special’ you must be better, so it’s OK.

    Oops, you pushed the button and the rant started up again. Sorry about that.

    Thanks for visiting!

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