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Knowledge Enhances Workplace Success

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A Brazilian man was rewarded $17,500 after a judge ruled his weight gain resulted from managing a McDonald’s franchise. And though his clothes were snug, his argument was far from tight.

In the eyes of the former franchise manager, the additional sixty-five pounds were beyond his control. According to the report from the Associated Press, the reasoning behind his lawsuit was clear cut:

The 32-year-old man said he felt forced to sample the food each day to ensure quality standards remained high, because McDonald’s hired “mystery clients” to randomly visit restaurants and report on the food, service, and cleanliness.

Interestingly enough, though the man’s explanation may be true, its components are somewhat self-contradictory. In AccelaWork’s opinion in fact, the entire story is a fantastic example of counterproductive behavior. According to the man, he felt forced to sample food in order to ensure quality. Yet, the purpose of “mystery clients” is to do just that: ensure quality.


© Flickr user Georgi Kirichkov

Perhaps the former manager felt threatened by mystery clients or that he was simply not confident in the every day service of his franchise. But, it seems more likely that he simply misunderstood the actual role of mystery shoppers and the significance they bring to the service industry. Contrary to his assumptions, mystery shopping is not aimed at seeking out and punishing bad franchises. Rather, it seeks to help a company ultimately improve upon its service. In one study on the matter, the mystery shopper program is summarized as such:

The use of mystery clients is primarily for the monitoring of site improvements, rather than as an evaluation tool. Information from the mystery client is fed back to the clinic [e.g. business] so that the clinic can improve its service provision.

. . .

Mystery clients might be used in an effort to avoid the bias in the service delivery process that often results from having service transactions observed. They can also serve to gather a sufficient number of observations of service transactions when the actual volume of service visits is low…  Because mystery clients are used to assess and improve the quality of services, they serve the interests of both clients and the program by highlighting the ways that the facility can serve its target audience.

Regardless of who is to blame for his weight gain, one thing is for certain: knowledge enhances workplace success. As our consultants have once concluded:

Operating a business through process-oriented work is what defines a successful company. And, despite the dozens of adjectives that go into describing any given process, the purpose should be well-defined and known to all stakeholders involved.

Upon implementation, it would have benefited McDonald’s to have supplied all franchises with a detailed synopsis of the mystery shopping program so that situations such as the one in Brazil could have been prevented. With all hopes, the fast food giant has learned a valuable lesson. More than likely, the sum awarded to this man isn’t enough for anyone too high up in McDonald’s to even be informed about this, but just because the problem is relatively minor, doesn’t mean it isn’t a symptom of a much larger issue. If employees are kept in the dark, mistakes are bound to happen and growth is going to be limited. Make sure that you’re not preventing progress through the simple act of omission.

Take the necessary steps toward achieving clear communication. Doing so not only sharpens comprehension, but assists in stakeholder satisfaction. Don’t hesitate to contact our organizational productivity consultants today. We can help eliminate the weight that failing processes can have on your company and your stakeholders.

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