Why liberating your learners works wonders

by John Hilton20 Nov 2015
Learning and development at McDonalds is a diverse offering which a lot of time and effort is put into. John Hilton interviews Cathy Doyle, chief people officer at McDonald’s, for her insights.

What does L&D look like at McDonalds?

L&D is for all of our people, whether they are licensees, suppliers or our 100,000+ crew that work in the restaurants. Essentially, without it we wouldn’t be able to operate. It’s a really pivotal platform. We have actually had our own Registered Training Organisation for 20 years and it’s one of the strongest and largest in the country. Our training budget is over $40 million annually and in 2015 alone we’ve got 14,500 of our crew actually in our traineeship programs across the state at no cost to the employee. They are either completing their Certificate II or III in retail, they are all externally recognised qualifications, and they are building their skills at work as well as doing it at university or TAFE as well.

I’m fairly new at McDonald’s and when I was looking to take this role lots of people said to me outside of the sector that it’s a great training and learning organisation. So we’re already known for that as a platform. We invest in it, we do it well, it has a structure, but it also has an outcome.

Does most of the training take place within the McDonalds they are working?

It’s actually quite mixed. We have academies and we have training centres in each state. We have a Charlie Bell Academy, the national academy in Sydney. We have our online webinars and seminars, but all of the workplace assessment work takes place either in the restaurant or in the head office or in the field of activity that they need to demonstrate the competency in.

How does L&D at McDonald’s deal with change?

We have actually had to, for the sheer size of change, enable our people to tailor what’s needed for their own area and their own customers. We’ve given them the tools and the level of excitement and engagement has just been strong. With the delight the customer concept, we’ve actually walked away from telling everyone exactly how the experience must be. It’s just got to be a delightful one.

We’ve got to create a smile at every seat, that’s what we tell our people. However, you have got to do it safely, you have got to do it on time, you have got to have the right resources. Everyone gets that. But how they do that is up to them. And young people are actually quite creative and innovative. I think we can lose it as we grow older. It’s just about continuing to harness that.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I do think for most organisations, L&D is probably one of the most significant aspects to a business, and making sure that you continue to be up to speed with what you are doing. We don’t develop everything ourselves, we do realise that we are great at some things but other things like our Master’s degree we offer through the university in Sydney and with a partnership with Melbourne University. So we know that in some levels of the tertiary system there are better people than us so we are branching out in that partnership way as well.