business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

It finally happened. While out on a typical retail experience this weekend, I finally saw a company position jobs in just the way I always dreamed they should and could be.

It started with a poster that called out: “It’s not just a job, it’s a career.” The poster called out all the benefits of the job. Instead of talking about the tough hours, it read “flexible hours.” Health benefits, career building skills and even uniforms were positioned as a positive. It reminded applicants that many of the most successful people in the company began with the lowest level jobs.

Even the picture used was well thought out. It featured a young Caucasian man and woman, standing together with an African-American man, a Hispanic woman and an Asian woman. It screamed diversity. It screamed opportunity. It screamed “take our application.”

Best of all, the attitude of the signage was reflected in the workers I met. One young woman quickly helped with me a question and just as rapidly suggested an extra purchase for me to add. When I asked if she was a manager, her response was incredible. “No I’m not. But we all like to work that way here.”

It was a great, great experience and sadly, this all happened in McDonalds. What made this worse was when I went into nearby supermarket the approach couldn’t have been more different. No sign about the great careers that truly exist in the supermarket industry. Nothing about the flexibility of hours or the incredibly important role we play in the community. Rather, it had a simple sign proclaiming “help wanted.”

Given the demographic realities caused by the coming retirement of the Baby Boom generation and the increasing competition for every employee at every level, this was a contest McDonald’s won hands down. And while many supermarkets are far better than the one I visited, there was an easy take-away from this visit. When it comes to employees, McDonalds has raised its game. Maybe everyone else gets a break today.

Raising your game is something we should never forget, no matter how small the improvement. Kevin Coupe made an interesting comment last week about the 20th anniversary of the release of "Bull Durham," a movie that I too love for both sports and general lessons. While some of you might find parts of the movie objectionable (be forewarned) it’s worth viewing to reach the key lessons.

The dialog Kevin quoted last week captured the essence of the lessons. It comes near the end of the movie when the lifelong minor leaguer explains to the white hot rookie the incredibly small difference that keeps one player in the bush leagues and sends the other to Yankee Stadium.

It’s the simple lesson of the difference between good and great. Sometimes the difference is luck, sometimes skill and sometimes hard work. It may not be fair, but it’s the small things that make up all that difference. Add to that list, the difference of McDonald’s coming up with an upbeat recruiting message for some of the least desired jobs out there.

One thing more: "Bull Durham" is a great movie … the best sports movie ever?

Sorry to disagree, but the vote here is for "Hoosiers."

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at .
KC's View: