When I was a teenager, I managed to get a job at the new McDonald’s restaurant opening up in my hometown of Hays, Kansas. I learned very quickly that McDonald’s had a motto / philosophy built around QSC – Quality, Service, and Cleanliness. It was in the corporate training videos. It was in all the written materials. There were descriptions of what the words meant, and as an employee, I was supposed to ensure that QSC happened ALL the time when I was on my shift…no matter what.
But what truly drove that motto home for me in a practical way was a situation you’ve probably experienced as a customer at McDonald’s. Peak dinner time, plus a bus full of customers! Take busy and multiply if a few times over! In the midst of that time, with people running all over the place trying to get customer orders filled, the french fryer started to malfunction. It wasn’t completely broken, but the sensitive frier calibrators, which ensure the french fries are the best in the world (in my opinion!), weren’t working properly, so french fries started coming out not fully cooked and soggy.
The restaurant owner, Rick Kuehl, was working with us on this particular shift, and the second he discovered that the french frier wasn’t capable of delivering the quality expected, he immediately turned it off. No more french fries available till the machine was fixed. He sacrificed french fry revenue for french fry quality. THAT told me McDonald’s was serious about QSC, and it seared the motto into my mind…obviously as I’m still struck by it over 40 years later.
Clue 5: The Double P’s
As we continue our series on corporate culture and giving you clues to determine if you’re the right fit with the organization you’re targeting, I’m borrowing another motto I learned from the corporate culture work I did with UnitedHealth Group. I call it the “Double P’s” for Clue #5, and it stands for “What you permit, you promote.” When Rick Kuehl chose quality over profit, he made it abundantly clear he was not going to permit low quality in his restaurant. And his actions spoke even louder than his words…he was also promoting the QSC motto that had been espoused.
Scripture reinforces this truism. In 1 John 3:18, the Apostle John instructs, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” James hits it from a little different angle in James 1:22 with, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” In essence, your actions speak louder than your words.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
So let’s forget what organizations say and just look at what they do. If we look for what they permit and promote…that will give us insights into whether we may fit within their workplace culture.
In addition to the McDonald’s example, here are a few others:
- Let’s assume that safety is one of an organization’s core values. Yet their safety record is abysmal with accidents and injuries.
- Perhaps innovation is talked about as important, but evidence shows that people’s ideas are not welcomed, and in fact, may be suppressed.
- Excellence is a word said to be valued by many organizations, and yet Net Promoter Score or customer satisfaction ratings are subpar.
- Here’s a good one – – let’s say we value compassion, but we permit employee terminations to occur via a phone call vs. an in person conversation.
- You hear that the organization wants to be known for trust, but recent promotions reflect people advance who lead by fear and intimidation.
The Double P’s outcomes will tell you quite a bit, and by employing Clue #3 (Check out other’s views) and Clue #4 (Network!), you can find sources who may share with you that information. Inquiring minds want to know, and with the right questions and listening, you can hear the Double P’s come out pretty clearly.
As previously mentioned, no one clue is the proverbial silver bullet, and it’s often the combination of clues that can give you the insight you’ll need to determine if the organization you’re considering is the right fit for you.
Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.