Monday, February 8, 2010

Undercover Boss

It's time to take a moment's break from politics.

Last night after the Super Bowl was the pilot episode of a new TV show called Undercover Boss. The basic idea is that a CEO goes undercover in his own company, working the most peon of peon jobs to find out how his own policies affect the lowest workers on the corporate ladder.

The first week saw Larry O'Donnell, President and COO of Waste Management, the nation's larges trash company, pick up trash, drive a truck, sort cardboard, and get fired. Yes, he didn't cut the mustard at one of his undercover positions. O'Donnell learned a great deal about how his ivory tower policies affected real people in detrimental ways. In the last segment of the show, he revealed his identity and shared how he was going to change things to fix the problems he saw while working undercover. Assuming he follows through, this will hopefully improve the company, both literally and in the morale department.

As a corporate peon myself in a company that just laid off about 7% of its workforce, this TV show hits me very close to home. I can honestly say that I can't imagine more than a small fraction of CEOs would do something like the corporate leaders on this show. And yet, if they would, I think they would have an entirely different perspective on how their decisions affect the lives of real people. I think they would not only improve their people's lives, but I'm certain they would also see a major jump in productivity since happy employees are accurate/motivated/enthusiastic/productive employees.

I heartily applaud the corporate leaders who undertake this undercover job, and especially those who follow through and continue to listen to the boots on the ground in their companies. If more CEO types would do this, American businesses would be transformed for the better.

I look forward to watching this series in the future. I hope you will, too.

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