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Lessons from the ‘Undercover Boss’

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

For business owners, the reality show “Undercover Boss” has become must-see TV. It features CEOs working undercover at the lowest levels in their own companies. It has, no doubt, encouraged other business owners to look at their operations more clearly through employees’ and customers’ eyes.

Example: Waste Management President Larry O’Donnell worked on garbage trucks and cleaned out portable potties. Along the way, he found dedicated employees who were candid about what could be improved.

But it shocked him to learn that his own policies had created hardships for some employees. Ultimately, the CEO changed some policies and promoted the best employees he found.

Waste Management launched social media sites so employees could share their thoughts, and it created a metric for employee engagement that drives the bonuses of front-line managers.

In another episode, Joe DePinto, the CEO of 7-Eleven, found a light burnt out during a visit to one of the chain’s highest-grossing stores. With so many franchisees to support, maintenance says it could take a month to fix.

Lesson: Question a process that doesn’t make sense. Shouldn’t the company prioritize a repair for one of its top-producing stores?

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