Undercover Boss: What Employees Think You Should Already Know

When CBS came out with their Primetime TV Show Undercover Boss my first thought was “it’s about time!”  Granted this show features mainly CEO’s of large corporations with multiple properties but what about smaller businesses?  Would they be as gung ho to participate in this type of experimental venture? And, assuming they play a more proactive role in their company, are too recognizable to pass themselves off as an employee.  If those obstacles were removed, would they pony up and play fair?

What about hiring a Mole, an unbiased undercover Muse like myself; one who’s experienced life as an employee as well as played in the sandbox of management.  I can’t count on my fingers and toes how many times I witnessed vast amounts of time/production hours evaporate into thin air because the employees were so dissatisfied for a variety of reasons ranging from not receiving recognition, being treated unfairly/poorly and not being treated as a valuable member of the company.  Not surprising that their attitude was work less, get paid, look for something else.  In many cases, I sympathized with their complaints as many were justifiably accurate, if not teetering on moral/legal boundaries.

When I asked The Disgruntled (employees) why don’t you speak up, the typical replies are all rightly fear based “I might lose my job” and “he/she is not receptive to criticism” and “people have already tried, I’m looking for another  job”.   If they are looking for another job, certainly they can’t be very focused on the one they have, can they?

Maybe The Disgruntled could learn to present their problems along with a proposed solution “The production staff feels that a half hour for lunch barely gives us time to clock out, clean up, get our meals and eat before it’s time to return to the floor.  We would like to propose an hour for lunch and ask that the company meet us half way by paying for an additional 15 minutes on the lunch clock.  We offer to take the additional 15 minutes, or not, without pay.”

Granted, it is human nature not to want our flaws pointed out to us but when you don’t even know the flaws exist, that’s called oversight.  You might be working your Oversight-self to the point of no return because this company is your passion, not necessarily your staffs, but who cares what those drones think I am paying them to do their job, right?  Wrong.  You are paying them to participate in your dream and the better they do, the better your company fares long term.

Once I witnessed the President/CEO of a small biotech company with 42 employees struggle at remembering his upper management staff members names and titles, and could not, for the life of him even name the lead scientific staff members.   Lastly, he rarely appeared at any company functions let alone spoke to anyone not in upper management turning him into a company comedy rather than respected leader.

People matter and they want to be heard.  Simple human nature principles are at work here, not rocket science.   Fortunately, oversight can be corrected through observation, communication and change.  Working as a consultant employees often approach me looking for a safe house, so to speak, to vent their frustrations figuring I can’t get fired for speaking their truths.  Oh yes, I can.  You see the thing with “oversights” is that some people refuse to acknowledge them, no matter who points them out.

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