Steverino and the Golden Arches...

Just a warning my busy amigo, this is a longer post than usual...

An early rite of passage into adulthood for me was landing my first job working for a global fast-food chain...

Yep. 

McDonald's (Maccas for you Aussie readers)...

My dad orchestrated an interview with the company’s tri-state regional executive, who happened to be our neighbor across the street...

After a friendly phone call, I went into our local franchise and progressed through the formalities of filling out the two-page job application...

I shook the general manager’s hand and like all good young able-bodied Americans began contributing to the economy in a meaningful way...

A week later I found myself clad in black pants, black visor and a maroon shirt with the golden arches emblazoned over my heart.

After enduring four hours of training by way of VHS tapes about food and occupational safety, two free refills and a cheeseburger later I was "work-ready"...

My first role on the team was to sit in an external four-foot-by-five-foot booth that was separated from the building. I spent those four-hour shifts passing out condiments and taking orders in person, daydreaming and making up stories about the customers who pulled through...

Our store had been enlisted to do research and development with a new model of customer service to ensure order accuracy and increased face-to-face contact...

Secretly, I wondered if the fine folks in corporate were also conducting psychological testing on the long-term effects of isolation in the workplace.

My first six months on the job were spent alone in that glorified outhouse handing out smiles and asking folks if they wanted to upsize their meals...

Eventually, I graduated to inside the store taking orders and dropping fries, nuggets and fish filets for the demanding public.

It was in the bowels of that fine establishment that I first picked up on the strengths (and painfully obvious weaknesses) of different management styles...

Our general manager, aka the ‘big-boss’, was an executor. He put his head down and worked hard. He was a model of top-notch delivery and ship-shape cleanliness. He set the tone for the team with his shirt tucked in, necktie perfectly knotted and a perfectly combed side-part.

He had quickly risen through the ranks from shift manager to assistant manager to his current role as GM...

When he was on the floor everyone worked harder...

I learned a lot about excellence and accuracy from watching and working under his management. To this day, I can recall the exact method he taught me in how to clean stainless steel without leaving visible streaks.

We had another manager who covered most afternoons. She was super friendly and supportive. She knew the regular customers by name always smiling and greeting them as they walked in the door.

She also seemed to genuinely care about everyone on the team. I enjoyed working with her because it always felt like the pressure was off...

When she was running the floor everyone seemed to relax and breathe easier. We knew she was there to pick up the slack...

I learned about the power of kindness and great customer service under her leadership...

The regular night manager was a different cat altogether. He was a real joker, literally, always telling stories and making everyone laugh. He was super laid back and came across as everyone’s friend.

He spent a lot of time in the manager’s office doing God-knows-what until we were slammed. That’s when he would hop up, jump on the front counter and work frantically until all the customers made it through the line. Then he would disappear again to the back office. No one on the team ever complained or questioned him because of his personable nature and approachability.

He taught me that likeability goes a long way in the business world...

We also had a fourth swing manager who was just out of High School. He had worked at multiple stores in the area and had recently been promoted to his current role. He went to the local Junior College during the day and picked up shifts whenever he could.

His leadership style was hands-off unless you screwed something up...

He would jump in and take over to get the job done.

He was a master of closing the store down and created a system that ensured we would be out of joint within a half-hour of locking the doors after the last customer left...

Running on a skeleton crew at closing time was normal company policy, yet somehow it magically felt like we had a full team when he was managing the shift.

I discovered his leadership style of working smarter versus working harder really resonated with me...

Altogether, I labored 3-plus years at that American institution, slinging burgers and fries for minimum wage...

The most valuable lesson I learned:

Different people lead in different ways.

If you're not sure how you're wired to lead, then you should take two minutes and find out (for less than the price of a cheeseburger) here:

https://imprinttest.com/

I promise you it's the best thing you'll find on any value menu.

Here's to leading your way...

Steve Knox