I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Facella, a former Regional Vice President of McDonald’s Corporation and now CEO of Inside Management. He is author of Everything I Know about Business I Learned at McDonald’s (McGraw-Hill, 2008). During Paul’s 34 year career with McDonald’s, he learned a lot about growing his own career as well as how to motivate and develop others to do so. He was kind enough to share some of those lessons during our discussion and in a guest blog he wrote for us (below).
Click here to listen to a podcast of our discussion and read on to enjoy Paul’s blog below.
(Paul’s blog post is presented here as he submitted it to us)
The jobless figures for the U.S. economy in November were the worst in 34 years. With more than 9.5 million Americans now out of work–and rising–many job seekers are wondering if the American Dream is fading. Is it still possible in today’s economic climate to work hard, rise up the corporate ladder, and get ahead?
No doubt about it. As someone with firsthand experience, I encourage you not to lose heart in this tough job market. There are opportunities hiding in some of the least likely places–namely, in the hourly workforce.
Like four out of seven McDonald’s CEOs and three out of four senior-level managers, I started my stellar career climb at the bottom rung–as a crew member. That scenario is as likely today as it ever was.
But there’s a caveat. If you want to grow in a company, you have to find one that has aggressive talent development policies and is committed to promoting from within. McDonald’s, for example, has created more millionaires–including more women and minority millionaires–than any other American company. That’s because the company culture is based on rewards and recognition. If you work hard there, you will be rewarded.
Job seekers who are willing to work for hourly pay initially, want to learn and develop, are ambitious, and have a clear vision of where they’d like to be in three to five years are good candidates for such jobs. But don’t waste your time at the bottom unless you are confident that the company hiring you has your best career interests at heart.
So how can you find out which companies have the right stuff for career advancement? The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts out a detailed and excellent set of guidelines and resources, at http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco20046.htm, for finding out more about a prospective company before you say yes. Do as much homework as possible before an interview so you can be reasonably sure this will be a goal-and-growth-oriented job–not a dead-end job.
In your job interview, ask such questions as: What percentage of your mid- to senior-level managers are promoted from within? What programs and policies are set up for helping high-achieving employees develop new skills? Is mobility at your company limited, or could one apply for jobs for which one qualifies elsewhere in the company?
What types of companies have the peachiest low-end jobs that are likely to lead to bigger and better positions? One rule of thumb is size. Large Fortune 500 companies usually have well-developed promote-from-within policies and are dedicated to career advancement for their lower-end employees. Some of the names that consistently come up, in addition to McDonald’s, are Walgreens, GE, FedEx, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and LL Bean. Each of these organizations has a track record for fast-tracking low-rung workers, such as store clerks, drivers, and low-end office workers into managerial positions. Also, the US military is well known for recognizing exceptional smarts and talents and promoting promising people quickly.
The take-away message is this: If you’re discouraged about the job market, don’t forget that a great job may be staring you in the face. Bottom-level jobs are not always dead-end jobs. In the right organization, they are a first stepping stone to rich career opportunities ahead.
What was your best hourly job? What did you learn from it?