McDonalds Manager Melanie is inspired by restaurant teamwork

McDonald's Manager Melanie is inspired by restaurant teamwork

 March 10, 2020

For International Women's Day, McDonald's celebrated women across the globe who make the company a great place to work and are proud to be part of the 'McFamily'.

One woman profiled is Melanie Hoffman, Manager on the McDonald's US Brand and Menu Strategy Team. For Melanie, teamwork is the key ingredient to creating a place where people want to work. And where has she seen the most impressive teamwork at McDonald’s is in the restaurants.

Teamwork is key

Melanie played soccer throughout her youth and later on the club team at The George Washington University. When she sees the way restaurant crew members work together, it reminds her of her time on the soccer field. 

“On the soccer field, you would never say, ‘Oh, I don’t play defense, I can’t cover that position.’ You play wherever you are needed even if it’s a position you’ve never played before. It’s the same way in the restaurants. Crew pitches in whenever, wherever help is needed and that’s what makes them close,” she said.

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Fostering team spirit in McDonald's restaurants

Commitment to teamwork creates an environment that empowers employees to take risks and try big ideas. Essentially, the supportive feeling of a team fosters an atmosphere for the kind of up-and-coming leaders McDonald's need.

When Melanie joined McDonald’s, she quickly saw the opportunity to foster the team spirit that she saw in the restaurant and on the soccer field.

 “You know when you start a new job and you have all these questions that are kind of lame and unimportant so you don’t want to bother your boss? I wanted to connect people to someone who they could feel free to ask those questions to – with no judgment, where no question is too small,” she explained.

Creating a buddy system for support

Melanie spoke with her manager and created a program called 'The Buddy System' that pairs new hires with a buddy who can provide the ‘no stupid questions’ safe place that is essential to a high-functioning team.

She described how she pairs up new hires with a buddy saying, “There is a lot of thought put into pairing, from past work experience to which category they are working on within the menu team.” The buddy system operates with only two rules. First, you must reply to your buddy’s emails/texts/IMs within 30 minutes. “You are their guide. They’re coming to you when they don’t know where else to turn – so answer them as quickly as you can,” she said. Second, buddies are required to meet up at least once a month for lunch or coffee.

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Growing into a company-wide scheme

Melanie’s idea caught on and the program grew from her team to the entire Menu department.

As an unintended side effect, she is creating a network that is likely to crisscross the entire company.

The McDonald’s System is a massive organization. That’s a huge advantage. If you want to learn about a different sector of the business, do it. There is room for you to plot a career path.

“One of the first things my team made clear to me when I joined the company was that I was not going to be on Menu forever,’” Melanie said. “I've been encouraged, even expected, to explore my interests since day one and that is something I really love about my team and McDonald’s.”

Through the buddy system, Melanie has helped connect people who will likely go on to take roles in many different parts of the company, creating bridges that will build a feeling of team unity among future leaders across McDonald’s. 

Proud advocate for McDonald's

Melanie's network of support goes beyond the four walls of McDonald's HQ.

She encourages all McDonald's employees to tell people about the positive changes happening at McDonald's and to influence the way friends, family and others think about McDonald’s by sticking up for their team.

“When people hear I work on burgers, they will say ‘So, what’s really in the meat??’ I always defend our beef and I talk for so long and in so much detail that they usually regret making a comment,” she said.

It’s personal to Melanie. She knows owner/operators, crew and support staff in multiple cities. She’s been to McDonald's suppliers’ facilities and met ranchers that are a part of the system. She’s on the Menu team. She’s proud of the food her team develops - and don’t even get her started on other coffee places.

“Bring your friends to the restaurant and show them what our food tastes like,” she encouraged

“I just took a road trip with two of my friends last month and we stopped at McDonald’s on the way there. I made them try the Bacon Smokehouse, which I worked on developing. They absolutely loved it. They were shocked that a burger with such complex flavor came from McDonald’s and that is exactly the reaction I wanted. Surprise creates the strongest memories," Melanie said.

On the way back her friends chose to stop at McDonald’s and get the burgers again. 

For McDonald's, Melanie is a prime example of the trust and good will that can be built for McDonald's business when employees act as ambassadors for the brand. McDonald's tells employees that, if you believe in your team, in all of McDonald's teams, then you should show it off. 

At the end of the day, teamwork makes you feel like you’re a part of something that is bigger than yourself. As a company with great ambition, that’s exactly what McDonald's need.

Forge a career at McDonald's and be proud of where you work

Women all over the world are working in jobs at McDonald's that they love.

If you want to join women like Melanie, search and apply for a job at McDonald's.


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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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