McDonald’s Global Chief People Officer shares his lessons learned

David Fairhurst, Corporate EVP, Global Chief People Officer of McDonald's Corp, offers some key advice for HR leaders, based on his own extensive career.
By: | July 29, 2019

McDonald’s Corp, like many other consumer-facing businesses these days, is reinventing itself. Customers want to be able to pay for their purchases via their phones, they want online ordering and delivery options and they want it all … yesterday!

McDonald’s is doing well on that front so far, having increased its sales growth by 4.5% by the end of last year (despite a stagnant market for fast-food providers in general), while its stock price has reached an all-time high.

At the same time, Corporate Executive Vice President and Global Chief People Officer David Fairhurst (who joined in 2015) has overseen a major cultural transformation at the fast-food giant, that’s seen the reinvention of many HR processes. He reveals all in the cover story of Human Resource Executive magazine in the US this September, but in the meantime, some of the key pieces of advice from that interview have been included here.

Teams matter: “You’ll know you’ve created a ‘teaming’ culture when the biggest compliment someone can give you is that you keep losing your best people to rapid-action, cross-functional teams.”

Build leaders at every level: “We’re supporting our people at every level of the organisation to become less managerial, and more inspirational.”

Challenge every HR process: “Traditionally, HR has been too keen to follow established processes rather than question, objectively review, and reinvent.”

Run HR like a business: “Make a business case for everything. Is every HR process making a difference? If not, consider eliminating it.”

Develop ambidextrous leaders: “We need leaders who are comfortable dealing with ambiguity and paradox.”

Prioritise diversity and inclusion: “For far too long, diversity and inclusion has been something of a peripheral activity, often sitting as part of an organisation’s [corporate social responsibility] agenda. In some ways it still will be, but only if we change the definition of ‘CSR to ‘core strategic response.’ ”

And finally: “Being a disruptor is tough — but being disrupted is even tougher.”


This story was originally published on HRExecutive.comHRM Magazine Asia’s sister publication in the US.