What Undercover Boss Teaches Us

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My wife and I have, on occasion, watched the TV show “Undercover Boss“. If you’re not familiar with this show, the premise is that the CEO or President of the company will disguise him/herself and work undercover in the job, side by side with employees within their company.

The show has a very humanistic flavor to it in that the senior manager is frequently shocked to find the circumstances that the company’s employees find themselves within – working long hours, sacrificing for their family, and making a series of difficult choices and decisions in order to do their job for the company.

InspectInevitably, the “undercover boss” recognizes the deficiencies in their company from a human point of view and takes corrective action at the end of the show.

But, I watch it through the eyes of a sales and marketing consultant, and I see an opportunity that each manager and/or business owner should capitalize on within their respective businesses.

No, I’m not here to tell you to treat your people better; but I am here to say that you should never be caught by surprise, as many of the undercover bosses are when they discover that their employees are operating in direct violation of corporate edicts.

Most recently, the owner and founder of a beauty spa chain discovered that one of her stores had decided to not use the company-branded products because the employees in that store “didn’t like them”. The owner was shocked to discover this and, obviously, took immediate corrective action.

But, I have to ask you:

  • How many situations are occurring within your business today that are contrary to your direction, strategy, tactics and/or procedures?

If you don’t know the answer to this question, the odds are some of these types of situations are actually occurring within your company as you read this.

The only way to correct this is to make sure that you publish clear, written descriptions (a.k.a. procedures) for each task within your company. Never assume that your employees will, on their own, figure out exactly what you want them to do.

Don’t be afraid of being a manager who sets guidelines, goals and strategies. Fear of being labeled a “micromanager” prevents many managers from executing good, sound management practices. As a result, many companies suffer financially and ultimately, as we all know, the buck stops with the owners of that business.

I’m sure an untold number of good businesses have gone bankrupt while management allowed the employees to do what they thought was in the best interest of the company.

Now, I’m not under any circumstances inferring any degree of maliciousness or evil. It’s just not possible to run a good team without a playbook. Do you have a playbook for your company? If not, chaos – albeit quiet and pleasant chaos but, nonetheless, chaos – is probably breaking out all over your company.

If you want your company to grow, you must take time to lay out the procedures that you would like your company to follow.

Be overly detailed in the description of each procedure, script the activities and behaviors that are desirable and then, once you have everything exactly right on paper, endeavor to train your people to follow those procedures. When you do this, you will end up with a company that produces predictable and profitable results.

You will be able, in many cases, to transition your practice (you only make money when you work) into a business (an entity that increases your wealth, whether you work or not) by following these words of wisdom.

As a famous World War II-era general once said to his subordinate officers, “Never expect that which you don’t inspect.” I think those are words to the wise for any entrepreneur or business owner today.

As always, I wish you

Good Luck and Good Selling!!!

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