Do you remember the recent reality TV show “Undercover Boss?” A president or CEO of a company would don a disguise and pretend to be an employee. The person would work alongside employees from various departments and try to tackle day-to-day tasks, such as assembling hamburgers or dealing cards in a casino. The results were truly eye-opening to the CEOs who were brave enough to take on this potential PR nightmare, and all of them made extreme changes to their policies or business practices as a result.
Promotional Consultant Today highlights four lessons that Rich McClure, president of United Van Lines, learned from his “Undercover Boss” experience.
Be Open To Constructive Criticism
Effective managers listen to comments from their employees, even if the comments are not always positive. It’s important to separate general griping from truly constructive criticism. Remember that your employees are actively doing their jobs, and most times, will have a better idea of process gaps and possible improvements. This will result in positive changes for your company and more efficient service.
Don’t Give Up On Sluggish Employees
McClure had one employee who demonstrated a negative attitude. The employee seemed to have a good command of his work-related duties, but he was negative in dealing with his immediate supervisor. McClure could have recommended an immediate dismissal of the employee, which would have been the first action of many managers. Instead, he took an interest in showing the employee the company’s big picture and his role in it. An employee’s poor attitude can be related to the manager’s lack of clearly communicating the company’s mission and vision.
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“Wherever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
Peter F. Drucker
Ask About Your Employees’ Dreams
Talking about personal dreams with employees is something most managers don’t think to do. Taking an interest in your employees can help you discover what they are striving toward. Your employees may have a desire to be promoted within your organization. McClure discovered he had a husband and wife team who were the best packers in his company. The couple had a desire to be promoted to drivers and own their own moving truck. After learning this information, McClure offered to pay for driver training and enabled the couple to have a long and satisfying career with his company. The cost of training is worth the price of keeping great employees.
Don’t Be Afraid To Get Your Hands Dirty
It is important as a manager not to be afraid to actively work alongside your employees. Getting actively involved and not being afraid to get your hands and clothes dirty will gain your employees’ respect. It will also give you a greater respect for the work your employees do every day.
If you went undercover in your organization, what would you discover? You don’t need a disguise to take a proactive look at what your employees and customers experience on a day-to-day basis.
Source: Angela Huffmon is a keynote speaker and corporate trainer. She travels throughout the year speaking to business owners and corporate executive helping them solve their three biggest problems: employee retention, productivity and manager/employee communication.