Case 2: Global Shared Services, McDonald’s Corporation
As the world’s leading foodservice retailer serving nearly 70 million cus- tomers daily in more
than 100 countries, McDonald’s recognizes the importance of having good people in place in
order to deliver an excep- tional customer experience. McDonald’s has a rich history of developing leaders. Founder Ray Kroc, once said, “As long as you’re green, you’re growing.”
McDonald’s supports this philosophy and commit- ment to their people by providing
opportunity, nurturing talent, develop- ing leaders, and rewarding achievement. This is evident in
McDonald’s tradition of promoting from within: nearly half of corporate managers and 60% of
owner-operators started as crew members.
For many people, McDonald’s represents a first job—a place to develop basic skills that can help
them achieve success in future life pur- suits. For others, McDonald’s represents a pathway to a
long-term career that provides rewarding opportunities to grow, contribute, and advance over
many years. McDonald’s values state their belief that a team of well- trained individuals with
diverse backgrounds and experiences, working together in an environment that fosters respect
and drives high engage- ment, is essential to their continued success.
Shared Services Business Challenge. McDonald’s Shared Services team began their partnership
with us in 2008. At that time, Shared Ser- vices was part of McDonald’s IT group, which was
decentralized in structure, but needed to function as a cohesive team to drive com- mon global
solutions. The CIO recognized the importance of develop- ing teamwork and alignment across IT
leaders and engaged us to lead this effort. After the IT Leadership Team had gone through The
Leader- ship Circle process, the CIO asked each of the officers, including Kelvin McLaurin, then
VP of Shared Services, to engage their teams in the program.
Soon after The Leadership Circle was introduced, the Shared Services organization evolved into
Global Shared Services (GSS) and became the first global function at McDonald’s. McLaurin
recalls: “We needed to build a diverse, global team with leaders who could expand beyond their
current capabilities.” He wanted to establish leadership effectiveness as a priority early with the
team he was building and leverage the Leadership System to make this a reality.
In 2012, McLaurin transitioned to a role leading McDonald’s Finance Transformation. Debbie
Ballard, who had been a member of the GSS Leadership Team since 2005, took over leadership
of the GSS orga- nization. Having experienced the value of The Leadership Circle, she was
already a supporter of the Profile and its benefits. Ballard explains: “The Leadership Circle
process helps me professionally and personally. It enables me to step back and see why I am
behaving the way I am behav- ing, and it helps me grow as a leader and to model the things that I
am asking my leadership team to do.” GSS continued their focus on leader- ship development
and further engrained The Leadership Circle program into its culture.
Strategic Solution: The Leadership Circle. When The Leadership Circle was introduced in 2008,
the GSS leadership team was skeptical. Intro- ducing an exercise that required not only getting
feedback about indi- vidual strengths and opportunities, but then sharing publicly with their
fellow team members would not be easy. However, the team committed to the process, knowing
the first session would be hard, but trusting that outcomes would make it worthwhile.
Despite the initial hesitation, the GSS has become the group that applies The Leadership Circle
most holistically and consistently. While other groups at McDonald’s leverage the Profile, GSS
is unique in that they continue to use public feedback with each team member talking about their
strengths and weaknesses in front of the group. McLau- rin explains: “The Leadership Circle has
become the common language across the GSS Leadership Team to onboard and develop our
leaders.” As new members join the leadership team, either from GSS or a sup- port partner, they
are expected to participate in The Leadership Circle. GSS also engages their high-potential
managers in the process. In 2014, GSS added The Leadership Circle Pulse Survey to hone in on
opportunity areas and ensure more frequent feedback to drive development in those areas.
McLaurin, who now leads Finance Transformation, brought The Leadership Circle practice to
his new leadership team as well in Septem- ber 2014. In addition, the Finance Transformation
team also incorpo- rated individual LCP assessment with team development opportunities.
Outcomes. The Leadership Circle helped GSS to become a true, shared leadership team and
build a culture of openness, support, trust, and high performance. Ballard explains: “It is part of
our DNA, part of who we are. We have now done multiple offsite meetings with our leadership
team focusing on individual and collective effectiveness. As a result, we have forged a cohesive,
high-performing leadership culture and system.”
Team members are empowered to mentor each other, talk openly about their opportunities, and
gain support using a common language. Each leader’s candor, paired with their support for one
another, enables GSS to drive business results at an accelerated pace. Instead of ignoring issues
that could hinder progress, the team talks through them.
Since the team respects The Leadership Circle process and one another, gaining awareness of
strengths creates a culture of trust and support. Bal- lard notes: “Leaders were afraid at first of
publicly showing people their development opportunities, but then they see that this supportive environment is designed to help you become a better leader, not discourage or embarrass you.”
The culture that The Leadership Circle has helped to create in GSS contributes to their success:
“We achieved our five-year strategic plan in only three years, and then set in place the GSS 2020
Strategy to continue our momentum toward our vision to be a world-class shared services
organization.” Both McLaurin and Ballard continue to be strong advo- cates for The Leadership
Circle process, driving application in their orga- nizations and sharing their experiences with
others in the McDonald’s System.
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