Article: Social skills are critical: Seema Arora Nambiar


Social skills are critical: Seema Arora Nambiar

Seema Arora Nambiar, Director - People Resources, McDonald's India (West & South)

Being a business where we need to interact with people on an everyday basis, each employee is required to have good communication and people skills. At the entry level, we look for employees who have the willingness to learn, the ability to think on their feet, along with the social skills and attitude to work together with other employees.

Most of the applicants in our business have only just passed HSC (12th Standard) and are 18 years or older. We follow the global McDonald’s leadership competency framework. At the crew level for example, the key things we look for are – communicating effectively, putting the guests first, achieving through teamwork and executing for results. We believe in identifying these leadership competencies early on and training people to give customers the same McDonald’s experience worldwide.

Our focus is to look at hiring fresh and young talent at the crew and store management levels, to give them an opportunity to be part of the largest QSR in the country. What we have realized is that all people are essentially friendly and want to do a good job. We have some difficulty in cutting through cultural bias of working with the restaurant business, as it is not considered a great career option. So, once hired, employees are encouraged to pursue higher studies and extensive training is provided at every level, which helps the employees to move up the order in the organization.

A lot of our crew pool comes from referral and direct hires at the restaurants. We do advertise our positions at colleges for our part-time crew, to give them the flexibility to work as is convenient for them. We also receive a lot of applications through the career page on our website. In addition to that, we have seen a great response to our innovative initiative Hiring Week, which was a week-long hiring initiative, wherein McDonald’s provided a unique platform to the youth of the country interested in showcasing their talents and skills in a professional environment of International standards.

The current attrition rate of the retail industry is approximately 100 percent while at McDonald’s India (West & South) the attrition rate is approx 40-50 percent at the restaurant level and about 10–15 percent at the Head Office level. At McDonald’s, the first 90 days are a rigorous training period for a new employee. The attrition rate at the end of this 90-day training period is about 14 percent, which could be classified as the attrition rate at the entry level.

For store management and corporates, we use multiple channels like campus and consultants, however almost 35 percent of our corporate hires are homegrown McDonald’s people moving through the restaurants and into various functions. Training is a combination of on-floor experience and classroom training provided through the learning and development department that takes into account exposure to the various aspects of the business. All new joinees undergo an in-store training to get hands-on feel and experience of how the restaurant operates. When a new employee joins the organization, he is taken through a systematic induction program. Crew members are trained extensively on all food safety and food handling processes.

The crew trainees work shoulder-to-shoulder with their trainers while they learn the operational skills necessary for running the restaurant - from the front counter to the kitchen areas. We focus on giving all our employees ‘skills for life’ and hence, our budgets are flexible based on the needs identified, both at the group levels and the individual levels. Clear focus is required for the employee at the level he/she is in, as in the long run all learning interventions benefit the overall productivity of the organization.

McDonald’s has tied up with specialized institutions like VETA Fluent English courses for fluent communication, BBA in retail with RAI Institutes, MBA programs with Symbiosis, Welingkars and Richard Ivey School of Management in order to provide our employees with the best training and educational facilities at subsidized rates.

The primary skill we are looking to address is improvement of managerial decision making, which is a crucial requirement for every position, upwards from restaurant manager level at McDonald’s, as they oversees multiple processes at the same time. They are also constantly managing multiple crore properties/decision at various points and hence, in order for empowerment to be successful, they need a constant competency upgradation.

Leadership is another trait we look to develop in our employees. This is because, at the restaurant, our people not only oversee the smooth running of the processes, but also have to be leaders to people and therefore skills like people management and interpersonal relationships are key to keep our business running smoothly. Ability to understand things like working more effectively towards the larger common business goal of the company as well as the ability to think and react on multiple levels becomes very important. Therefore, partnerships with reputed institutions are imperative to the overall business, as it helps employees develop key skills necessary to visualize and work towards a unified business objective.

The only metrics in place is when it aids their productivity and efficiency and hence, helps them deliver better than before. Eventually, this only helps the organization grow from an overall perspective. In order to measure effectiveness of transition on the job, we also track retention of new employees. Ultimately, the best measure for effective training is business results.

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Topics: Skilling, C-Suite

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