February 1, 2011

Undercover Boss Continues Lesson Learned for Corporate Strategies

We continue our TV watching of the hit show Undercover Boss to see what new lessons can be learned for our leadership from those taught or learned in the programs. In previous posts we looked at the newest episodes for those months; now let’s look at the non-repeats for January 2011.

Sheldon Yellen, the CEO of BELFOR a disaster restoration company, works with his clean-up and construction crews to get a better picture of the job they do and how they interface with customers. Although he knows recognition and raises are important for hard work and job changes, he worries that employees working side jobs will hurt his reputation because some feel they do not get enough pay or that work is scarce. At BELFOR, they froze hiring and wages to save jobs in down-turn economy, but employees were not told this, so they saw it as corporate taking away pay even when giving a promotion. On one job, Yellin shows shortcomings of some bosses where they take anger or frustration out on subordinates rather than themselves or the process their company uses. He shows himself to be the bigger man by apologizing for wrong behavior rather than letting it slide like many managers do – the RESULT increased respect for management who admits their mistakes rather than blaming others. He also recognizes that illiteracy can be a problem that influences job growth for employees so he has his training department begins work on how to reconcile the issue. I like how he summed things up as the people take care of the company, so the company should take care of them.

President and CEO of UniFirst, Ronald Croatti, visits uniform manufacturing locations better appreciate the skills of his employees and listen to their needs and ideas. He emphasizes that management needs to take advantage of creativity and ideas of employees who know best how to improve their jobs.
He learns that some HR policies penalize good employees rather than prevent bad behaviors, so he determines to look at his tardiness rules. He also learns that mergers and buy-outs require communication to be successful. This is especially important if you want to build and maintain culture or sense of family among employees as is his management goal. To aid this process he determines to make sure all employees are aware of programs avail able to them rather than just assume newer member of corporate family will know the company they are now working for.

Kevin Sheehan, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line since 2007, explains his goal of increasing profits and reducing turnover. He learns that not every brilliant idea from corporate pans out in the field. Before implementing new process or equipment, check to see how much it costs to install and work it involves for employees against the ROI on customers actual desire for it. In almost every position, employees pointed out need for employee recognition, family time, and upward movement opportunities within the corporation. Sheehan acknowledged that customer interaction and satisfaction were key to success and employees were an important part or making that happen.

In these episodes, C-level leaders learned that leadership needs to not just send down a mandate but explain the strategy. Having a communication plan that helps employees understand the strategy can prevent problems and misunderstanding. Be sure to ask for questions from employees to improve communication and get better results from the overall strategy.

What do you think about corporate communication? What lessons have you gleaned from watching Undercover Boss? Please share in comments.  See next UCB post

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