One of the biggest messages I share with executives is that they should walk in the shoes of their staff. They need to get in the trench and understand what their employees experience. So, you would think I would love the CBS show Undercover Boss. Absolutely not! I think it’s one of the stupidest shows I’ve ever seen. Shame to any boss who has to be on TV in order to get around to spending time with their employees. These sound like strong words, but I really am amazed someone can be a CEO and know so little about what’s going on in their own company.
Saturday Night Live captured my sentiments perfectly this week when it hosted Adam Driver, who plays Kylo Ren in the hit film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the sketch, Kylo Ren appears on the TV show Undercover Boss to better understand his own stormtroopers. This skit perfectly summarizes why Undercover Boss is one of the most inane shows ever created.
You don’t need to go “undercover” to understand your employees. You just need to spend time with them. This has to be intentional on your part. Every manager should make it part of their business to be in the trench with others. You can’t make strategic decisions in your organization if you haven’t regularly walked in the shoes of those who are behind the scenes or down in front of your customers. Not doing so, or doing so infrequently, will make you not too different from this SNL spoof.