The aim - developing senior managers to be better leaders and to encourage the cultivation of talent – by the expansion of a coaching programme across McDonald’s UK and Ireland.

Client: McDonald’s UK and Ireland

Challenge: Short-term results-driven style of leadership, lacking long-term vision, reveals the need for a new approach to broaden skills and encourage collaboration

Solution: A 3-day coaching workshop as an integral part of an annual leadership development programme for senior managers

Result: Three-tiered impact, personal, within teams and across the organisation, recognised by executive staff. Now with plans to implement this system at a larger level across the business.


McDonald’s first arrived in the UK in 1974, they now have 1,280 restaurants across the country, a Head Office in London and four regional offices. Their philosophy is to provide a fun, but safe, environment for customers to enjoy good food, made with quality ingredients, at affordable prices. McDonald’s strives to be a socially responsible business and is focused on making a real lasting impact in the communities it serves.

Across the UK and Ireland, McDonald’s has 138,000 operations staff, with approximately 500 corporate staff; their aim is to support the development of their people and to promote talent, hence their investment of £43 million annually for training and the provision of growth opportunities.

McDonald’s is putting into place a long-term vision approach – allowing for the broadening of skills and the encouragement of collaboration

Historically, McDonald’s has always been very good at developing their relationship with external suppliers, but internally their approach to people development has been results-driven and short term. Tom Bacon, Head of Learning and Development explained they have realised that “We could achieve more for the long term through a different approach to leadership”.

Coaching has always been part of people development at McDonald’s, but it has been recognised that there needs to be more emphasis on broadening leadership skills. This leads to better collaboration across the different disciplines and the nurturing and development of individual talent.

“It was more about how we can bring these skills more in-house, and leverage coaching conversations as well as coaching as a standalone intervention to help with talent.”

Coaching Focus created a bespoke coaching skills programme for McDonald’s’ senior managers, within a three-part leadership development programme – to cultivate and generate more effective managers.

Since the need for a new approach was identified 5 years ago, the bespoke leadership development programme has been run on an annual basis. The purpose has been to help the business leaders increase their confidence and performance, allowing them to operate at a more strategic level. The programme has three components; Leading with Emotional Intelligence, the Leader as a Coach, and Strategic Leadership. Coaching Focus’ input from the outset has been to provide the Leader as a Coach component.

They designed an ILM certified, three-day programme for senior managers from all aspects of the business - the managers having been specifically selected for their potential to become future leaders and their existing responsibility for the development of talent within their teams. The programme is provided for cohorts of 10 to 12 delegates annually and combines theory with practice. The delegates are required to hone their new skills in the workshops, under the supervision of the Coaching Focus facilitators, before transferring them to the workplace.

Senior managers have demonstrated improved confidence, better communication skills, and an increase in staff engagement.

For McDonald’s, the progression of coaching being an accepted part of all disciplines within the business has been positive and is continually expanding. Tom has identified three levels of impact that the programme has had.

Firstly, was the “Ability of the cohort to work together to make an immediate impact on each other, that helped with the individuals, ability and confidence to coach.” The second was a recognition of a “Trickle-down effect [that} has been the way in which they are coaching members within their team”.

Finally, the third area, which Tom explained was a work in progress, is the ability of the delegates to become part of a coaching pool for the whole business, “Not just coaching their own team, but being partnered up with people they don’t know across disciplines, to empower them to make a difference beyond boundaries.”

These observations have been formed following the feedback from engagements surveys that McDonald’s standardly provide to their people. The impact has been noticeable, as people have commented that they now receive regular feedback from their managers together with coaching on their career development.

Bigger and better – McDonald’s has seen the value in developing coaching skills in their people and are now rolling this out across the entire business.

Due to the success and the added value that has been evident as a result of the work with Coaching Focus, they are now exploring how best to expand this programme to reach more of their people across the business. Along with the established face to face workshops, thought is being given to the potential use of an online coaching management portal, Mye-coach. Tom has explained; “That’s the value we’ve seen, but there is only so much we can achieve with only 12 people a year going through the programme. We love what we have achieved, but we want to scale up.”

The plan is that the new expansion will be available to more people than just the senior managers.

The programmes with Coaching Focus have been so successful due to the trainer’s natural ability to ‘read’ the classroom and engage with the delegates, the flexibility offered to tailor the programme to suit the specific needs of McDonald’s, and the desire from Coaching Focus for continual improvement, and ensuring the client receives ‘a bang for their buck’.

Tom has summed up his thoughts; “It’s about making sure that we’re getting the most out of whatever programme we decide upon”.

He closed by saying, “There is much anticipation to what this next phase of the coaching programme looks like at McDonald’s UK and Ireland”.

Next Steps with mye-coach

Now McDonald's have developed a plan to train coaches across the organisation, they have also commissioned mye-coach to help manage and monitor this new coaching activity. With plans to roll out the system in 2020, we will continue our partnership with McDonald's ad support the development of their new culture.

Related Resources