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Introduction - Leadership and Management Challenges at McDonald's During the COVID-19 Pandemic  Assignment Sample

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Leadership and management are two concepts that are very much interlinked with the business world. It is critical to recognise that good management relies on strong leadership to function effectively. Leadership is described as the ability to influence and motivate the activities of a group toward the achievement of a common goal or objective (Castillo and Hallinger, 2018). The leaders must take the initial step in recognising that the organisation is in a crisis. In the case of catastrophes that do not appear abruptly but emerge from established situations that conceal their true character, this is a tough step to take. Understanding the potential consequences of a slowly emerging crisis requires leaders to transcend the normalcy bias that can cause them to misjudge both the likelihood of a crisis and the potential effect of a crisis.

COVID-19 has posed new challenges for personnel and necessitated continual modifications throughout this difficult period globally. The spread of the virus does not only affect businesses but also takes a physical, emotional, and psychological toll on personnel. With the coronavirus epidemic, corporate executives and others are being asked to perform to unprecedented levels of expectation. Executives are finding it difficult to respond to the epidemic because of its vast scope and unpredictability. Because of the unfamiliarity and uncertainty that characterise crisis situations, effective responses must be improvised to the greatest extent possible. In this report, the leadership and management challenges regarding the employee motivation that McDonald’s faces during the pandemic and the appropriate theories to address them will be vividly explained, along with the discussion of the challenges of leadership and management regarding change management will be elaborated and analysed thoroughly.

Leadership and Management Challenges for McDonald's during covid-19:

McDonald's Corporation has a presence in approximately 120 countries across the world. Since its founding in 1955, it has amassed a wealth of knowledge and expertise in adapting to rapidly changing business conditions. McDonald's degree of risk readiness, experience in dealing with concerns about safety, and supply chain management all had a role in this incident. McDonald’s has been challenged by the time of unprecedented change, so much so that they themselves have started to think in new and different ways about a variety of issues, including the menu, operational processes, and how to serve their customers and workers in both restaurants and corporate offices in new and different ways that emphasize the safety of their personnel.

The statement that COVID-19 has altered the scene of the McDonald’s would not be an understatement of the truth. The organisation has been seeming to deal with a significant drop, and company leaders are doing everything they can to preserve normality and prepare more quickly than they ever have. While it appears that new developments are occurring on a daily basis, one thing that has remained constant is the necessity of managing and supporting employees via compassion, compliance, and responsibility (Mitchell et al., 2020). While the worldwide pandemic is underway, the leaders face several issues regarding employee motivation.

McDonald’s faced the critical importance of being cognizant of the impact of the covid-19 on employees while navigating the constantly shifting environment that this pandemic offers for our business. Employees are experiencing higher emotional turbulence, such as greater apprehension and dread, as well as additional stress from children at home and feelings of isolation. The organisation took into account the very real influence that these emotions have on the employees’ capacity to be healthy, be present, and be productive in their jobs. They had issues with implementing flexible scheduling choices to allow employees to take time off when necessary. The leaders had to safeguard their employees as they are accountable for providing an environment that is physically and psychologically safe for all employees at all times. But they could not at first cope with the teams and address their needs. Employee motivation and engagement were rapidly dwindling, and drop-out rates were increasing.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed multiple dangers to employees: the virus itself and the increased burden resulting from the new work environment. Even in the best of circumstances, maintaining employee health, preventing infections, and preventing burnout were and continue to be critical leadership responsibilities. Employees' well-being might be significantly impacted by their continual adaptability and anxiety for themselves and their family. The leaders of McDonald’s faced problems encouraging and building the resilience of their personnel to motivate them (Shapiro and McDonald, 2020).

Effective communication, both top-down and bottom-up, is a critical component of successful leadership. It is the foundation for organisational trust and identity. Communication abilities and a variety of communication channels are critical for successfully combating the epidemic. Creating and sharing a chronology with experts regarding the COVID-19 issue is critical and beneficial in establishing professional confidence. Allowing workers to develop certain rules and standards and then apply them is another highly motivating element. These were not effectively employed by the leaders of the company. Given the circumstances, McDonald's did not realize that allowing the employee to take unpaid leave would be considered a reasonable accommodation. The terms "communication" and "collaboration" were not redefined. It becomes much more powerful to have ongoing video conversations between managers and their staff to discuss new tasks, feedback, difficulties, and the potential to course correct. Organizations like McDonald’s that have previously engaged in a transparent culture and are continuing in that spirit will have the extra benefit of being able to realign more quickly to our contemporary work environment than those that have not.

Suggestions for how to address them in the chosen organization

The use of proper theories can help resolve it. There are several motivation theories in management, all of which attempt to shed light on what motivates or drives an individual in the workplace. Motivating employees is crucial to the business's success.

Maslow's Needs Hierarchy

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Theory is an often-referenced theory of job motivation (Hale et al., 2019). According to Abraham H Maslow's motivational theory, humans have a hierarchy of needs and work their way up through them. They progress from one need to the next as they are met.

Maslow's theory of work motivation identifies five demands.

  • Physical: the most basic needs are for food, clothes, and shelter. These requirements are highly correlated with an individual's pay.

  • Security: the desire to be secure. This may manifest itself in the workplace as a sense of job stability or even the desire to work in a safe setting.

  • Social: the desire to be a part of a group. Humans are a sociable animal; they will seek out groups and desire to be appreciated as members.

  • Ego: the desire to gain attention or status. Individuals would want to feed their egos or enhance their self-esteem through employment accomplishment.

  • Self-actualization: if all other wants are met, an individual will progress to a stage when they become more creative or growth-oriented.

The Three-Needs Theory of McClelland

According to David McClelland's management motivation theory, each person has three primary needs: the need for power, success, or affiliation (Yustin, 2018). According to McClelland's employee motivation theory, a person's specific need has a major influence on their conduct.

  • The Desire for Power: This individual is motivated by the desire to be in a position of authority or control. They are generally self-disciplined and powerful leaders.

  • This individual is driven by achievement or the accomplishment of goals. They thrive in stressful conditions and generally establish difficult objectives for themselves and strive diligently to achieve them.

  • Affiliation Requirement: This individual thrives in a group or collaborative atmosphere. They collaborate effectively with others and actively seek out social contacts.

Herzberg's Theory of Motivation

Herzberg's Motivation Theory, sometimes referred to as the Two-Factor or Hygiene Theory, is another well-known employee motivation theory. It indicates that humans have two distinct types of work-related needs: Hygiene and Motivators. Hygiene refers to an individual's work environment, which includes working conditions, pay, and interpersonal relationships, whereas Motivators are the elements that encourage individuals to work more – job recognition, advancement, and accomplishment.

According to Herzberg, if individuals are unhappy at work, it is due to the work environment, and if they are pleased at work, it is due to a sense of fulfilment or motivation.

Leadership and management challenges in change management

For the leader, the transition process may present quite distinct problems from those for the rest of the team. Knowing what obstacles may lie ahead might help to prepare to overcome them. Patience turned out to be an important element that is required while dealing with the employees.

Employee hostility

It seemed that few people enjoyed the leadership changes implemented in McDonald’s during covid19 while the others retorted. They state it as unacceptable. According to them, businesses must change in order to stay nimble and competitive. Change resistance began in the organization, and all the leaders were averse to implementing old tactics. Additional resistance also arose as a result of a change. Employees turned out to be concerned about the future of their position and employment (Ng and Wang, 2019). Even after the change was implemented, employees continued to oppose it as they could not accept that the new processes would make their jobs harder.

Communication breakdown

Communication is deserving of additional attention. This is an area where many companies falter (Leichter, 2019). McDonald’s too faced this while implementing changes to the management segment. While many organisations are adept at communicating value to their consumers, they frequently struggle with internal communication with their workers.

Several communication flaws that were seen in McDonald’s include the following:

  • Limited or insufficient communication

  • Inadequate communication routes (i.e., email, in meetings, website)

  • Inadequate communication with and involvement of all stakeholders in follow-ups.

McDonald’s lacked to perceive that each change management strategy should ensure that communication is clear and consistent across all channels in order to facilitate productive discussion between personnel and management as successful communication conveys accurate information.

Adoption of new technology

Few changes create as many problems for employees at all levels of the business of McDonald’s as technology implementation. The introduction of new equipment, tools, and procedures alters the way everyone works (Han and Park, 2017). Without a well-planned interruption, production might be considerably reduced rather than increased, resulting in dissatisfaction.

To maximise training effectiveness, McDonald’s lacked many training opportunities. It could not avoid one-off training sessions that skim the surface of how everything works.

Possible ways of addressing them-

By utilising a proper theory, the issues can be resolved. Among the best theories, are-

Lewin's paradigm of change management

Kurt Lewin, who designed this model in the 1950s, is the model's namesake. It separates the process of transformation into three stages:


This is the stage of preparation. Analysing how things operate to ensure what has to be changed to get the desired results. Additionally, clarifying expectations with employees about the duration of this period is also important (Venketsamy, Chauke and Bipath, 2021).


This is the phase of implementation. Putting the change into action and continuing engaging with and supporting all affected workers starts here.


To prevent reverting to the old way of doing things, creating a method for monitoring progress and ensuring that the change sticks work excellently. Examining how the new procedures function and assessing their success in achieving objectives is a must.

The McKinsey seven-strategy model

This model, developed by McKinsey & Company consultants, divides a change programme into seven components on which to focus:

  • Alternate strategies

  • Business's organisational structure (Bezrukova et al., 2019)

  • Systems and procedures in business

  • Organizational values and culture

  • The way in which the task is done depends on

  • Personnel involved

  • The skills that the crew possesses

By dissecting organisational transformation into these fundamental components, it is possible to prevent neglecting any critical aspects.

Kotter's philosophy of change management

John Kotter, a Harvard professor and change management specialist, developed a theory centred on the individuals participating in the change process and their psychology. He breaks it down into eight steps:

  • Instilling a sense of urgency in people to encourage them

  • Creating a change team comprised of leaders and change agents with a range of talents and departments.

  • Defining strategic vision for the objectives to be achieved

  • Communicate with all parties engaged in the change management process to ensure their buy-in and understanding of their roles.

  • Identify bottlenecks and resolve any issues that cause friction.

  • Establishing short-term goals helps to break down the change management strategy into manageable chunks (Pawar and Charak, 2017).

  • Maintaining momentum throughout the implementation process.

  • Maintaining the changes after the first project is completed.

Case Study Analysis

Analysis on First Chosen Area

Mashlow’s Hierarchy of Needs

  1. Psychological Needs: During the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the leadership and the management team of McDonald needs to implement and utilise this theory in order to meet with the psychological needs of the employees. Generally, during this unprecedent hazards, employees mostly become under pressure for maintaining their lifestyles (Sekhar, Patwardhan and Vyas, 2018). Therefore, the leadership and the management team of McDonald have taken numerous initiatives to provide sufficient support and help to retain their previous health lifestyle during this pandemic situation. Through this, they will be able to effectively meet with the psychological needs of the employees.

  2. Safety Needs: On the other hand, the pandemic situation has significantly hampered everyone’s life throughout the world. In this aspect, in order to successfully motivate the organisational employees of McDonald, the executive team of this organisation provides sufficient and effective facilities regarding their health and safety needs (Karabag, 2020). The leadership team provides the opportunity for health policy without any investments. Moreover, the provision PPE kits, and the other safety equipment to the employees prominently encourage to involve with the business practice of McDonald.

  3. Belongings and Love Needs: During the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the protocol of lockdown make the employees bore through staying home lonely. In this aspect, in order to encourage own self, they always looking for some activities to stay engaged with that. Therefore, the executive team of McDonald has decided to initiate and establish an effective communication system with all the employees of the organisation (Mani and Mishra, 2020). Throughout the utilisation of this communication system, they have been able to get sufficient encouragement by getting the support of their colleagues, social groups, community groups, etc. In this way, the employees become more encouraged towards their job practices.

  4. Esteem Needs: At this stage, gaining esteem and admiration of others is becoming more essential. Individuals should do something and then acknowledge their achievements. Besides the desire for emotions of achievement and status, appreciation requirements encompass basic things as individual self and value. Athletes and teams may all be involved in professional pursuits, academic achievements, and personal interests to meet the requirements of esteem (Karabag, 2020). People who can meet the requirements of esteem via high self-confidence and other people's acknowledgment tend to be comfortable in their skills during their job practices within the organisational culture of McDonald.

  5. Self-Actualisation: Throughout the organisational business practices of McDonald, the executive team needs to provide prominent support to each of its employees. Moreover, on the other hand, the employees also need to actualise their self during their organisational job practices. Generally, the executive team needs to effectively monitor the entire activities and professional progression of each employee (Sekhar, Patwardhan and Vyas, 2018). Through this, they will be able to provide prominent support to them for encouraging them within their individual job practices in particular segment or department of the organisation.

Analysis on Second Chosen Area

Kotter’s Eight Step Change Model

  1. Increase Urgency: Evaluate any possible risks in the short or far term within the organisational culture of McDonald. These risks may include evaluating technological advances, competitive developments, market demand shifts, and so on. Address any opportunities the business may take advantage of (Evans and Price, 2017). Start a frank conversation in which McDonald has the opportunity to convincedly describe the vision and provide stakeholders a possibility to express worries and consider freely regarding the idea.

  2. Build Guiding Team: By discovering and seeking for assistance in the implementation of the vision of important change leaders and stakeholders in McDonald. Build an alliance that functions as a team regularly and openly (Bartsch et al., 2020). Associating a number of individuals from different sectors and companies evaluate and replace the possible weaknesses of the group. The variety of the title and degree of the work will contribute to the distribution of vision strength in many different positions in McDonald.

  3. Develop the Vision: The journey of transformation started because McDonald had an idea how to do things effectively. Clear and intelligible vision is essential to achieve the changes that they want (Schuster et al., 2020). Utilisation of graphics to map procedures and methods to understand what works and not, and may help to develop a clear picture of improvement and a purpose.

  4. Communicate for Buy-In: McDonald undoubtedly has enough of interaction with which he will compete. Therefore, it does not enough merely to e-mail or communicate the vision with the people of the organisation (Malik and Garg, 2017). In order to make the transformation successful, the organisation must repeat every opportunity the organisation receives and show the behaviour they want.

  5. Empower Action: Moreover, with this in mind, McDonald is certainly anticipated to be resistant to transformation. They should offer themselves the greatest opportunity to generate momentum for their concept by taking the effort to eliminate barriers to a fresh idea (Evans and Price, 2017). McDonald has also identified the most resistant to organisational changes and strive to eliminate their worries or to provide proactive answers to their opposition.

  6. Create Short-Term Wins: No merely a spark, however also a steady current implements the change. To make sure that it stays, building dynamism for vision is important (Bartsch et al., 2020). Short-term wins motivate people involved in the new vision and are an excellent method to fight against any disagreements or organisational views criticism.

  7. Don’t Let Up: Early wins are not enough to maintain the change, but they are excellent to begin the transformation. Quick winners may mislead the employees and their colleagues, but repetition and expansion must resolve real change (Schuster et al., 2020). McDonald must also progressively establish more ambitious targets which may expand on accomplishment exponentially.

  8. Make Change Stick: Last but not least, guaranteeing that the transformation is integrated into McDonald's culture is the last stage in the transformation procedure. Duration, modifications in administration, and modifications in personnel may all have an immediate and significant effect on the effect of a development (Malik and Garg, 2017). Additionally, in order to guarantee that the change becomes part of the organisational culture, it is necessary to take every chance to speak regarding progress should be taken. Share success experiences that stem from the transformation vision, as well as those that have already been shared.


Two concepts are strongly linked with the commercial community, administration and leadership. Effective governance has to be recognised by powerful leadership in effectively working. Leadership is the ability to inspire and motivate a group to achieve a common objective or objective. The leaders should begin through acknowledging the problem of the institution. This is a tough stage if catastrophes do not occur abruptly but are created by existing conditions which disguise their actual character. Identifying the potential effect of a crisis that is struggling to build needs leaders to go beyond normalcy, which overestimates the likelihood of a catastrophe and its prospective harm. The coronavirus epidemic requires corporate executives and other people to reach unheard-of standards. Employees' worry in relation to the human impact of COVID-19. Because they are big scale and unpredictable, managers find it challenging to respond to the epidemic. The outcome is true that it has all of its features as a "landscape scale" disaster - a massive event or a sequence of events that lead to considerable ambiguity, leading to deformation, management and severe interruption. McDonald's Reaction Team Covid-19, senior executive vice president of the U.S., has become a part of the work of everyone. During a change, McDonald's was pushed so strongly that it started to ponder a variety of issues, including menus, operational processes and new methods of serving customers and staff in shops and corporate headquarters. They stressed the safety of their employees.


In this way, by effectively studying the entire knowledge and information in the above section, it becomes evident that the outbreak of the pandemic situation significantly impacts the consistence of the organisational business of McDonald. In this aspect, the senior executive team of McDonald has decided to implement some resilient and effective strategic approaches within the organisational culture. Due to this, they utilise the Mashlow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory and Kotter’s Eight Step Change Model. However, in order to more proficiently deal with different unprecedent challenges or threats that hamper the whole business consistency, the organisational leadership and the management team need to utilise and implement more appropriate and agile approaches within the organisational culture. Through this, they will be able to proficiently enhance their organisational effectiveness and brand reputation and awareness in the international platform. In addition to this, moreover, McDonald needs to implement more sufficient training approaches within the organisational culture. Through this, they will be more prominently able to prepare their employees to efficiently and proficiently tackle any kind of hazardous circumstance during their business operation in the market.


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Bartsch, S., Weber, E., Büttgen, M. and Huber, A., 2020. Leadership matters in crisis-induced digital transformation: how to lead service employees effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Service Management.

Bezrukova, T.L., Kuksova, I.V., Kirillova, S.S. and Gyiazov, A.T., 2019. Forecasting development of forest complex in the formation of digital economy. In IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science (Vol. 226, No. 1, p. 012063). IOP Publishing.

Castillo, F.A. and Hallinger, P., 2018. Systematic review of research on educational leadership and management in Latin America, 1991–2017. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 46(2), pp.207-225.

Evans, N. and Price, J., 2017. Managing information in law firms: changes and challenges. Information Research: An International Electronic Journal, 22(1), p.n1.

Hale, A.J., Ricotta, D.N., Freed, J., Smith, C.C. and Huang, G.C., 2019. Adapting Maslow's hierarchy of needs as a framework for resident wellness. Teaching and learning in medicine, 31(1), pp.109-118.

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Leichter, D.J., 2019. Communication Breakdown. Social Philosophy Today, 35.

Malik, P. and Garg, P., 2017. The relationship between learning culture, inquiry and dialogue, knowledge sharing structure and affective commitment to change. Journal of Organizational Change Management.

Mani, S. and Mishra, M., 2020. Non-monetary levers to enhance employee engagement in organizations–“GREAT” model of motivation during the Covid-19 crisis. Strategic HR Review.

Mitchell, E.J., Ahmed, K., Breeman, S., Cotton, S., Constable, L., Ferry, G., Goodman, K., Hickey, H., Meakin, G., Mironov, K. and Quann, N., 2020. It is unprecedented: trial management during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Trials, 21(1), pp.1-7.

Ng, T.W. and Wang, M., 2019. An actor–partner interdependence model of employees’ and coworkers’ innovative behavior, psychological detachment, and strain reactions. Personnel Psychology, 72(3), pp.445-476.

Pawar, A. and Charak, K., 2017. Study on adaptability of change management: review of Kurt Lewins and Kotter model of change. Research Revolution International Journal of Social Science and Management, 5(4), pp.79-83.

Sekhar, C., Patwardhan, M. and Vyas, V., 2018. Linking work engagement to job performance through flexible human resource management. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 20(1), pp.72-87.

Shapiro, J. and McDonald, T.B., 2020. Supporting clinicians during COVID-19 and beyond—learning from past failures and envisioning new strategies. New England Journal of Medicine, 383(27), p.e142.

Venketsamy, R., Chauke, L. and Bipath, K., 2021. Transitioning through management change: The experiences of community learning centre educators. African Journal of Career Development, 3(1).

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