Undercover Boss

Yet another management gimmick!

Undercover Boss

The urge for CEO’s to go “undercover” as employees or work safe officers in order to truly understand what’s happening on the “shop floor” highlights the disconnection between senior management and employees. If anything it goes to prove that a lack of trust exists between and within the management ranks and employees at all levels. What does it say about a company’s culture when the CEO feels he or she has to go “undercover” to understand or learn about what’s happening in the business? Clearly it is says, “I don’t trust you!”  More so it undermines the leadership of first line supervisors and managers.  If CEO’s truly feel they need to go “undercover” then it raises serious questions about how much management is trusted.

I have no issue whatsoever with CEO’s walking the job, in fact as far as I am concerned it is one of the hallmarks of leadership.  In our leadership program The Power of Your Presencewe strongly advocate, and in fact instruct leaders on how to engage employees at all levels in meaningful ways.  Our results have shown that when leaders follow the principles taught in The Power of Your Presenceprogram, employee engagement, trust and effectiveness increases significantly.  The difference in our program is that there is no need to don a disguise like they do in undercover boss. Wearing a disguise would defeat the purpose of the exercise because we are looking for genuine responses to the leaders themselves. Whatever response they get is valuable in terms of how they are being perceived. They, the managers/leaders, can then work off these cues to modify their performance so they can become more accessible in the future and better leaders as a result.

Results like these are possible where the leaders are serious about employee welfare, and are prepared to make the time to listen to what their employees have to say.

If the senior leadership of an organisation take the act of listening seriously and are seen to do it with positive consequences for the employees and the rest of the business then it is likely to be a trend that will be followed by managers at all levels.

Psychologist and social researcher Robert Cialdini notes that people will follow the actions of others especially if they can identify with them or aspire to be like them. Hence modelling becomes and important adjunct to teaching young managers what is required of them to become better leaders. Another important reason why you should get out and about is that your chances of persuading people increases. People were more likely to accept ideas if they liked the person who is working to convince them of the merits of the idea.

Isn’t it better to treat employees with respect rather than dupe them by going undercover?

Posted in Business Management