MCD Partners

Memphis Daily News
Train Employees For Excellence
August 10, 2017
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

Billions of dollars are spent on marketing every year by businesses and institutions trying to convince potential customers that they are the preferred choice. However, after decades as an observant consumer, I have concluded that most businesses would have much more success if they invested a portion of that marketing budget and a little time into professional development for their employees.

Some businesses have it just right. You can observe the results of training employees in the company’s culture. They have been shown and taught what winning looks like from a variety of perspectives. Somewhere along the way, the leadership communicated the vision and the culture they are striving for, and it shows. Everyone wants to be associated with a winning team, a winning organization.

A few days ago, I stopped in a well-known fast-food restaurant hoping that it would really be fast, despite the number of customers. Once inside, I saw that it was the epitome of organization. Like a well-coached team, everyone had a job to do and everyone did it with practiced ease. Even my somewhat complicated order was no problem as it was filled with a smile and a cheery greeting.

Employees were busy with various duties and an ever-watchful eye of the manager took it all in, ready to intervene if needed. Their culture of service and hospitality, particularly in an ever-increasing high-tech impersonal society was a welcomed experienced.

The next day, encouraged by my last experience, I stopped at another equally well-known fast food chain. Although the drive-thru line was long, the store was nearly empty. No was at the cash register. There were six employees working behind the counter filling orders and arguing over the fries. Two had no gloves, one had ripped gloves, and another had a glove on one hand and was scratching her head with her bare hand.

My uncomplicated order took three tries to get right. It looked as if no one was in charge and there was no plan. Both restaurants had similar menus, typical food which practically cooked itself, and spent billions on marketing. One obviously also invested in training its employees in building a culture of service and pride.

What a difference it makes to the employees when they are considered important and valued for the work they do. Employees tend to rise to the standard set for them. The more you expect, the more they will achieve. I believe most employees want to know what is most important at work and what excellence looks like.

It isn’t just fast-food restaurants that need an undercover boss look to determine what is needed to promote a successful culture. Some hospitals, banks, retail stores, schools, corporations and businesses of all kinds are letting that personal touch slip away. When there is a high-tech culture, the more the high touch is needed for high performance. And that high touch not only includes customers but also employees.

Successful organizations do not take their culture or their employees for granted. They lay a solid foundation for the success of both.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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