Mickey D’s, why have you forsaken us?

Used to be, you’d use salad tongs to put McDonald’s fries in the little baggie. If you can remember that, you’re getting old.

Also used to be that sending a kid to work at Mickey D’s for the summer meant you’d get back a half-man/half-mattress that now had some sense of work ethic. He’d know the basics of customer service, accounting and getting along with others.

I’m not sure it happens like that anymore.  They still sleep all the time—that hasn’t changed—but most kids don’t understand the way ‘work’ works because Big Burger no longer helps to train them for a life of success.

My first job out of the Marine Corps was with McDonald’s Corp. You know what we couldn’t do back then? We couldn’t take a break in the dining room during the lunch rush. We also couldn’t interrupt an order-taker to ask for a drink cup.

No room to sit? Too bad, go outside. In fact, go outside anyway. Diners don’t want to watch you spread out scratching yourself while they eat.

Yes, times have changed. The other day I asked the manager if there was a break room the kids might use so that I could have a seat in the dining room.

“Sorry,” he shrugged.

McManagers aren’t what they used to be. McPloyees either.

You think things haven’t changed in retail? Go to any shopette just before 9 a.m. and see where the workers park. Actually, I’ll just tell you: the front row. That used to be a firing offense.

Have we forgotten why we’re in business? It’s so that customers will come to buy things from us.

Our job (as owners and managers) is to make that transaction easy and pleasant. Yes, we want the employees happy, too; but the top priority is the patron. Employees always park at the back of the lot. Employees never take their break in sight of the customer.

That’s just the way it is. Those are a tiny part of the work ethic principles and business sense we ought to be driving into their undeveloped skulls.

As managers and owners, we have a sort of moral obligation to teach our employees how to be successful; not just here, but at their next gig, too. “In addition to wages, you’ll learn to succeed” should be on every help wanted sign in America.

And we should hold ourselves to that. If we don’t do it, who will?

Categories: Management & Leadership