Jan 17, 2007

McJobs and McService

Former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card looks at a new book on fast food management, My Secret Life on the McJob by Jerry Newman.
To his surprise, Mr. Newman found that fast-food store managers differ in the way they operate: "How employees were treated was part of an individual store culture." Mr. Newman describes Toxic Managers who used sarcasm or disrespect toward workers. Mechanical Managers were just doing their job, "as if fast food was a slow death." On rare occasions Mr. Newman discovered Relationship Managers whose caring and kindness extended to workers even when they were not on the job. He defined Performance Managers as leaders who built relationships to serve as a "means to ensure performance."
I used to live close to what I can confidently call the worst Burger King in the world. Service was slow, employees were rude and they were always out of key products, like soda. Yes, soda. In the years that I lived there I could never get a milkshake as the machine was broken and they were out of chicken nuggets on more than one occasion, which was a problem as this was my son's meal of choice.

Now, I'm not a regular at Burger King, and I avoided this one when I could, but sometimes desperation sets in. Like the time I had to hurry home from work, drive my son to band rehearsal and then watch the band perform. We got out at around 11 pm and neither of us had eaten dinner. So on to the drive-through it was, only to discover that not only were they out of nuggets, but they had no soda of any description.

To complain was fruitless. Once in frustration, I yelled at the woman working the drive-through. Gladys was her name. After Gladys informed me that they were out of some item, then kept me waiting and was extremely nasty to me, I pointed to the little sign that said the store was managed by one Miriam Rodriguez and suggested to Gladys that I might give Miriam a call. She practically offered to dial the number for me as she assured me that Miriam really couldn't give a shit what I said.

As always happened after one of these little encounters, I would declare a boycott and stop going. But another round of band rehearsals or karate lessons would see us both exhausted and starving. And, figuring that fast food restaurants experience high turnover, I would head back to the worst Burger King in the world with the hope that things had changed. Always, however, Miriam Rodriguez was still on the job. And so was Gladys.

No comments: