Change Management Metrics at McDonald’s China

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How McDonald’s China use data to support Change Management

A few days before McDonald’s China did their SAP training their staff satisfaction was at its highest ever. Two weeks later the mood data reported a drastic change at the back office centre.


“It’s a difficult sell to do change management”, says Philip Shum, Director of Change Management at McDonald’s China.

“It’s not measurable”, he adds.McDonalds change management Philip Shum

“If I invest 10 million in computers, I get a nice fleet of computers. But with change management, it’s harder to measure what you are getting. So what gets measured? That’s really important. If you don’t measure then we can’t talk about it.“

“Change is all about people. You need to know how your people are feeling during organizational transformations!”

Since McDonald’s China implemented baseline measurements they have an Employee Mood KPI (Key Performance Indicator).

This shows if the changes they are implementing are having the desired effect on people.


Daily, Weekly, Monthly data

The device which is used to measure how employees experience their workdays repeats a standard question.

This gives a stable reading of the employee morale which is obtained on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

Metrics for Change Management

“It’s great to have a number”, Philip says with a smile.

“And also, just with the device itself, we are sending an important message: Hey, you know what, from management, we are listening to your concerns. That’s a good talking point and a good start to making sure our staff feel that we care and that we listen. Continuously.” Which is in line with McDonald’s people policy.

Change management is elusive, it’s difficult to understand. “In one sense, this device is a foot in the door for us. Until now, it was a bit hard to introduce a sense of change during team huddles, team roadshows, etc,” says Philip.

“The Celpax gave us a way to introduce us in the Change Management team and talk about the benefits of making changes, not just about the projects.”

“Ever since we installed it, we’ve used it as an introduction where we say, ‘hey, have you seen the device by the exit door?’. We talk about the purpose, about how we use the data collected, we remind them about privacy, etc.”

Change Management McDonalds

“How was your day?” Employees at McDonald’s China press green or red before heading home

Less Resistance to Change Itself

“With the data, we can be more adaptive. It gives us an excuse to have casual conversations about what is happening right now in our organization. We’ve noticed that there is less resistance to change itself.”

The first thing Philip did was to personally visit all 14 teams and explain WHY they were asking their employees to press a green and red button each day.

It took a while due to company rhythms like end of month urgencies (which they later correlated with the mood data). It also coincided with their SAP roll-out.

“Our key message was that this is voluntary. We are simply trying to understand how you feel. Because before this, we didn’t know. At McDonald’s China, we have an annual employee survey. But the problem is that it happens once a year.”


Acting on the Results

“In change management, you have to talk about new tools when you start, and repeat the message again and again.“

“One or two emails isn’t sufficient. That’s human nature so I’m totally fine with it.”

“We told our employees that we just want to gauge their daily mood. You simply just press the button to say if you’re happy or unhappy when you go home, and then you can see the team results from the last 24 hours. And don’t worry, we can’t trace it back to individuals!”

They promised they were just gonna talk about it afterwards, and look for ways to improve their scores.

Change Management Tools

Philip promoted the usage by carrying a clipboard with a device on it.

Before the end of the meeting, he would ask them to press it.

He specifically told them that he REALLY didn’t want to see what they were pressing and turned his head away.:

“They were laughing, but it was my way to show them that they are anonymous. Don’t worry about pressing red, we just want to know about your wellbeing!”

He then invited all managers so they would receive the weekly email update, and get access to their results on the online dashboard.

“We’re super happy with the device as it gives us an excuse to join team huddles and do team visits. We ask people what they think about our Mood KPI results. We can then move on to doing something about it, and verify it in the data.”


Data Insights at McDonald’s China

The centre gives back-end support for the Chinese McDonald’s restaurants. As in many call center environments, a fair share is repetitive work.

It’s an industry with small margins and people sometimes do long hours, which is mirrored in the data breakdown. Especially towards the end of the month, which typically means added stress and workload with deadlines to close each month on time, and close with a good financial results. The stress particularly affects managers.

“One of the first times we analysed the data at our directors’ meeting, we verified that managers and team leads tend to press more green than the direct reports. That was surprising and also encouraging. Many managers are pretty positive although they have to leave late.”
Mcdonalds logo China, golden arch
Work-life balance is one of the points where Philip is convinced they could do better.

With a lot of work piling up, many managers feel the need to finish it before going home. Junior managers on the other hand, sometimes work late to impress their bosses.

Using the mood metrics to show the impact of the leaving times on mood, is a good starting point for work-life balance conversations.

“We had one or two directors who were sceptical at first as we chose not to break down the results for each team. They were worried about not being able to figure out which department is unhappy. Cause if you don’t know, how will we be able to change that department?”

“But we don’t want that kind of precision. The purpose is to improve the mood for the ENTIRE company. In an ideal world, regardless of privacy issues, if you ask a pretty small department to say if they are happy or not, do you really think they would participate in this thing and give their true opinion? They would say we are monitoring them!”

“The setup is generalized so we get the mood for the whole McDonald’s centre. And that is the message we sent, it’s not precise for a reason: we respect your privacy.”


Using Mood Data to Adjust the SAP Rollout

Philip and his team found that just before their SAP training their staff satisfaction was at its highest ever.

There was a readiness to change.

“Once SAP went live everyone was unhappy and our Employee Mood KPI went down. That was expected! During the training, our employees learnt a lot about SAP but didn’t have time or the computers to practice it. Once they got started, they went oh my, SAP is so hard!

The company decided to organize refresher trainings which were very well received by their employees.

The Mood KPI started going up again.

“It was a good indicator for us to understand their mood during the stages before and after the go-live and learn what we could do to fix it. We didn’t have this during projects before.”

“Now we are looking at our change management approach to see what else we can improve using the data. The only way is up!”

Like the idea of using the Celpax as a change management tool? 


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Rebecca Lundin, CelpaxHej! I’m Rebecca, co-founder at Celpax. We use simple tech tools to create better work environments. And build a better society while at it! Let’s talk change management metrics on Twitter? Or follow us on Linkedin.

Photo by XUNO

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