Peaches Prattlings

{November 24, 2013}   Undercover Boss

I think I’ve told you, I’m not a reality show junkie, but there are a even we that I like and I found one that I liked and now it’s on Netflix! Undercover Boss.

The premise of the show is an upper level executive, generally a C-level executive goes “undercover in their own company”, trading in their ‘uptown living’ for a uniform and getting their hands dirty. Companies have included Subway, NASCARZ, Hooters, MGM Grand, NCL Cruise Lines, Direct TV.

The guise is employees think that there is a reality show, following two people who are vying for the same job. The candidate has changed their appearance and gets assigned to four different jobs to find out how people do their jobs. Some of the jobs seem simple, but turn out not to be and they find out their not as able as they think they are; the jobs range from deliveries, demolition, cleaning toilets, window washing, hot dog sales to satellite dish installation on a roof, the list goes on.

It seems like a lot of the people the candidate gets set up with has some sort of hardship, how they have been down and had struggles and brought themselves up. The biggest thing that you notice and the candidate notices is the attitude of the employees, how hard they work and how they don’t let things get to them, when life gives them lemons, they definitely make lemonade.

All these experiences help the executive get a new appreciation for their employees and their companies. Turns out that some executives can’t do some of the jobs, imagine that! Hey, the CEO of Subway Sandwiches had never worked in a sandwich shop, never made a sandwich, the CEO from Johnny Rockets was training on the grill, couldn’t even cook for himself! The CEO for a corporate cleaning company had never cleaned a toilet! (His wife was hoping he’d pick up a few tricks, he didn’t even pick up after himself!)

That same CEO from Johnny Rockets who said that he wanted to put into place an initiative that every new executive has to go down to the front lines and do those jobs before during their first week on the job, so they have the knowledge to make decisions instead of just making decisions blindly.

When I worked for OK Cafe in Atlanta,, for the first two weeks on the job, I trained at every single job before I got on the floor to wait tables; hosting cashier, runner, prep, baker, everything and I think that anyone who gets a job, especially at an executive level, just like the CEO at Johnny Rockets, should train so they understand every aspect of the company.

Working with the employees, they see the good, the bad and the ugly. They get the low down from employees even when they have issues with the company, but stick it out because they love what they do.

One of the nice things about the show is that after the week undercover, they bring the employees they were working with in the field, to the office, they think they’re going to vote on who to select for the job. They do things for those employees to help them out, whether it’s a raise, new job, maybe a mentoring program with the executive, training programs to move within the company, donation to a charity in their name, eduction, help with their families, to date, they have given over one million dollars to their employees. Bring tissues!

The end of the episode has the entire company in for an all hands meeting where they talk about their experiences undercover and give the company a chuckle by showing clips of the boss trying to do those jobs! Some of them even got fired!

What you hope, after everything, is that the executive team takes what they learned and make changes with the company, all for the positive.

I think more companies need to do this, without the incentive of a TV show, but because it’s good for the company.

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