What a water-cooler type conversation-starter the latest series of Undercover Boss turned out to be.
If you’ve not had the pleasure of immersing yourself in this fly-on-the-wall content, you really should – particularly if you’re fascinated by and obsessed with entrepreneurialism, management and building a great business.
Undercover Boss (check it out on ITV) watches a number of bosses step back into the workplace that they own, but do so entirely anonymously, assuming a different identity with employee status.
What follows are some incredibly powerful scenes and conversations, often allowing both employer and staff member to do some humbling learning and re-assessment.
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In a very recent episode, we saw Robert Forrester, chief executive of Bristol Street Motors embark on the journey to sense check whether they had the capability to scale up and continue to grow.
At the start of the programme, Forrester was very proud of the volume of data that he had to make key decisions in his business. What he learnt from the people that he met was how unappreciated, insecure and demoralised several of his staff were feeling.
Forrester delivers a killer summary at the end of the experiment:
“Understanding the people behind the data is how we’re going to create a much better business.”
Of course, however many employers might relish the opportunity to anonymously explore their company inside out – these are time-consuming commitments which can’t always be made possible.
What we can do as managers, founders, directors and leaders, however, is to follow the path of deliberate and persistent learning and development.
We can choose to keep learning what’s working well for our business and identify what needs to change.
We can continuously seek out how our team feel, how they’re treated, and how they perceive our processes or our culture.
We can discover what is loosening the glue within the company, and what would strengthen it further, if only we were to deploy some appropriate measures.
On the back of Covid, it would seem to us at MAD-HR that this is a great time to really look hard at just how much you as a business leader do already by way of persistent learning about your enterprise.
Have you even used this time to look at what’s working well for you and your employees?
Have you recognised strengths and weaknesses among employees that you might never have spotted if it wasn’t for seeing them over Zoom and in their own homes?
Have you noted practices and procedures in your everyday work approach, which felt perfectly normal in 2019, but you now realise are largely ineffective or ill-advised?
Our team have seen a significant increase in calls in recent weeks as businesses began to reopen doors or accelerate their output.
Yes, certainly some of that call rate is associated with recruitment needs, furlough adjustment and the like – but much of it, unsurprisingly, is about employers wanting our help in revisiting their strategy, implementing changes and problem-solving in the light of newly formed perceptions of how the workplace operates.
While you may not be up for wearing a wig and pretending to be an anonymous visitor to your own firm, there are still plenty of things you can do to continually learn why and how the company operates as it does.
Ultimately, one of your greatest roles is to have a continual thirst to learn, improve and learn some more.
For more help and information from MAD-HR, get in touch with us.