McDonald’s Corporation’s Talent Management Program

McDonald’s Corporation is an American company that specializes in rendering fast food services. The company is one of the biggest fast food restaurant chains in the world. According to Ghobadian and O’Regan (2014), McDonald’s “operated 34,480 restaurants worldwide in 2012” (p. 87). To run such a big company, it is necessary to provide a successful talent management program.

The essence of talent management program

Nowadays, talent management is one of the most important management issues. All across the globe, Human Resources specialists pay a lot of attention to talent management strategies due to increasing pressure to cut costs. But what does a successful talent management strategy mean? Firstly, it is important to identify the essence of talent. Different scientists draw different meanings of talent. Some scholars describe talent as an object; others determine talent as a subject. Despite different interpretations of talent, researchers agree that the context has a significant impact on the accurate description of talent. According to Thunnissen, Boselie, and Fruytier (2014), “talent is not absolute, it is relative and subjective” (p. 1751). Following this, it is possible to develop and train appropriate employees’ skills and abilities. Businesses, which execute the best talent management procedures, are more prepared to compete in the global markets. The main goal of talent management is a superior workforce.

The development of McDonald’s talent management system

It cannot be denied that McDonald’s (n.d.), “the world’s iconic largest food service provider” (para.1), has established an efficient talent management system. Otherwise, the company would not have such a long history of more than 70 years. Most of this history has focused on the talent of crew and management in the restaurants. With approximately 420000 employees worldwide (United States Securities and Exchange Commission, 2015), people have been and always will be at the center of McDonald’s success. To understand the talent management strategy that the company provides today, it is necessary to highlight the most important stages of the development of the talent management system.

The first remarkable step towards today’s program was establishing Hamburger University in 1961 as a training center for the staff. The University is still open and works nowadays. The main aim of it is to teach and instruct McDonald’s personnel in diverse aspects of restaurant management. Hamburger University is located in Oak Brook, Illinois.

However, the most significant transformation happened after 2001. There was a need to support the company’s global growth in the late nineties. According to Harkins, Giber, Sobol, Tarquinio, and Carter (2006), “in two and a half years, beginning in 2001, three separate initiatives were developed and implemented to enhance McDonald’s talent management and development process in order for the organization to better meet its global needs” (p. 153). Consequently, McDonald’s established a talent management team.

The first initiative is the redesign of the performance development system for all employees throughout the company. Six new key expected leadership behaviors were added. Also, a three-point rating scale was introduced. It replaced the five-point scale assessed in percent.

The second initiative was the introduction of the talent review process for all officer level positions. The goal of this decision was to make the talent management more rigorous and transparent. The company’s presidents from different parts of the world were asked to answer the questions about their qualities such as leadership and the depth and diverse of their talents.

The third initiative was the development and rollout of the Leaders at McDonald’s Program (LAMP) to enhance the development of high-potential individuals for officer-level positions. The program was aimed at developing high-potential talent. The ability of employees to improve results in their current positions and to prepare them for achieving success in the future was increased. Job places were considered as opportunities to learn and develop. Opportunities to build strong peer networks both internally and externally were provided.

Strengths of the talent management program

These introductions have played a significant role in the creation of today’s talent management program. The analysis of the company’s main initiatives allows drawing a conclusion that regarding talent management McDonald’s provides the following functions nowadays: social, professional, qualification, motivational, organizational, educational, recreational, and cultural. There are o lot of strengths in the system McDonald’s has established. However, its main advantage is education. In his article, Weinstein (2012) cites Thomas, Vice President of U.S. Training, “As our restaurants continue to evolve, our learning and development function must react quickly. We bring outstanding operations performers on board to teach at Hamburger University” (p. 61). Moreover, the company offers such opportunities as offering a range of scholarships, college partnerships, and the English language learning program particularly designed for McDonald’s managers. Also, one more considerable advantage of McDonald’s talent management program is the fact that the majority of top managers began their career from lower positions.

Improvement in the talent management process

“Career Development at McDonald’s combines a focus on personal growth and development with talent management objectives in order to help employees to perform at their very best – while experiencing personal career satisfaction” (McDonald’s, n.d., para. 5). Indeed, having established such a strong talent management program, the company performs the following task to contribute to both the personal and the professional growth of its employees. However, everything is a work in progress, and there are always opportunities for improvement. McDonald’s has sufficient material and human resources to implement new strategies in the talent management system.

Humanity lives in the time of rapid technical progress. Having a leading position in the market, the company has to be aware of innovations and introduce new technologies and software. Modernization and modification are priority directions for any company in the 21st century. The introduction of new technologies will be a good opportunity for improvement in the talent management planning process.

In addition to technical innovations, globalization is to be considered. It is directly connected with modern technologies because globalization is the transformation of the world into a single space, and it takes place on the basis of such things as technologies, the Internet, and global television. It goes without saying that McDonald’s is one of the biggest international corporations, and the main principles of globalization can be seen in its organization. However, it is essential to continue following the rules of globalization.

Approaches to meet the talent management challenges in the future

There are two effective approaches to meet the talent management challenges in the future. The first one is based on modern technologies and innovations. As mentioned above, McDonald’s Corporation established Hamburger University to train and instruct the company’s employees. However, the university does not have any branches across the world. It is obvious that one campus is not enough, and demand exceeds supply. Nevertheless, establishing and maintaining Hamburg University campuses all across the globe would be too expensive. Creating a distance learning system, which would save students and the company thousands of dollars, would be much more reasonable and as effective as face-to-face education. The primary purpose of a distance learning system is to increase training capacity with the help of technology. Thus, the introduction of distance learning would expand and enhance McDonald’s talent management program and meet future challenges.

Apart from this, to meet future globalization challenges, McDonald’s company needs changes in international cooperation. Despite its accessibility, information is the most expensive and valued production factor in the modern society. Information can be efficiently transferred throughout the world. If a company have an opportunity to use knowledge and information, then it signifies that this company can adjust itself to the global changes. To meet this change, McDonald’s should establish an exchange mobility program within the company to be a real global team. Sharing experience and information throughout the company is important. Inter-cooperation can be achieved by sharing the knowledge between different branches and outlets. Not only top managers should be involved in this exchanging process. Such opportunity should be offered to ordinary employees.

To sum up, it is necessary to highlight that a talent management program is the key factor in management. McDonald’s has a rich experience of the development of the talent management program due to its long history. There were a few important stages in the evolution of its talent management system. However, the most substantial changes in this process happened after 2001. Three initiatives were implemented to meet the global needs of the company better. These introductions had a great impact on today’s talent management program. Though the established system meets the requirements of the global market, the management of McDonald’s should concentrate more on the introduction of innovations and international cooperation within the company.


Ghobadian, A., & O’Regan, N. (2014). A case study and interview with Jill McDonald CEO and President of McDonald’s Northern Europe Division. Journal of Strategy and Management, 7(1), 87-100.

Harkins, P., Giber, D., Sobol, M., Tarquinio, M., & Carter, L. (2006). Leading the global workforce: Best practices from Linkage, Inc. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

McDonald’s. (n.d.). Leadership development. Web.

Thunnissen, M., Boselie, P., & Fruytier, B. (2013). A review of talent management: ‘Infancy or adolescence?’. The international journal of human resource management, 24(9), 1744-1761.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission. (2015). Form 10-K. Annual report pursuant to section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Web.

Weinstein, M. (2012). McDonald’s Recipe for Success, Training, 49(1), 60-63.

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