New CBS Series Undercover Boss

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There is a new CBS TV series call Undercover Boss that is about a top level manager like the CEO or President that goes undercover to work in entry level positions throughout the company.

The episodes are kind of like infomercials. They show a lot of the people in various positions and the good things along with a few bad things. At the end the boss realizes how some things can be improved.

I really enjoy business type of reality shows so I was excited to watch.  The first episode follows Larry O’Donnell the president and COO of Waste Management as he completes various jobs ranging from picking up trash, cleaning out portable toilets, riding along on a trash route, etc.

Larry is even fired from one of the jobs for working too slow. He doesn’t do the labor for a reason.

The big eye opener that he experienced was while he was riding along with a woman on her trash route.  The “toilet” that the drivers use is a can, even the women.  They are spied on by a supervisor to make sure they are staying on task and keeping their schedule.

He meets several great employees and a manager that is a little too strict in trying to increase productivity by docking 2 minutes of pay for every 1 minute the workers are late.

I think it was a great way for executives to see how their companies really run.

The next episode follows Coby Brooks, the president and CEO of Hooters.  He travels to three restaurants in Texas. At the first location he meets the manager Dave.  Coby is late to his first day and Dave rides him a bit.  Coby does his job slow and has trouble getting the job done quickly.  Dave teases him a bit, but does a good job. By the end of the day Dave lets Coby go since he couldn’t get the job done.

The next day he goes with a couple Hooters girls to pass out free wings to people.  What is crazy is how out of touch Coby is with reality. He seems shocked that some of the women he meets tell him that Hooters is degrading and exploits women.  Once couple tells him they would have a hard time taking their kids there.

Coby thinks that the reason people don’t want to try Hooters is because of the name.  He finds out that people don’t want to go because the uniform for women has their butt hanging out on one side and boobs hanging out on the other.

The women that work there like it because of the big tips they get.  At first they may think the uniform is a joke, but once they see the tips they don’t seem to mind anymore.

At the next location he meets Jimbo.  You can tell Jimbo just loves being the manager over young women with very little clothing on.  Coby is posing as a potential assistant manager.  Jimbo starts out seeming to be a good motivating manager with a positive attitude. He then lines the women up and one at a time inspects them to make sure the meet the Hooters girl standard.

It is hard to tell if he is always they way he seemed or if he was putting on a show for the camera and the new guy.  When business dies down he offers to send one girl home, but to earn the spot they have a contest.  He places beans on a plate and the girl who can eat the beans the fastest with no hands can leave. One girl has school and wants to leave, but Jimbo says she has to win if she wants to leave.

On the side Jimbo tells Coby they are spoiled and all premadonnas.  I watched this with my wife and she was telling me how eating the beans was mean and not funny because the hooter girls have to watch their figure.  She has a couple friends who are hooters girls so I suppose she knows.

Jimbo loves watching the girls eat the beans. Coby leaves the room and is pretty upset about it.  He went out to his car to call the franchise owner to tell him about what Jimbo is doing.

In the next location he meets Marcee, a former hooters girl and now manager. Marcee seems to be the best of the managers that he followed.  She has good rapport with the girls and they seem to respect her. She is also the only manager that didn’t appear to either show off or lay the whip down on Coby.  I could tell he was happy with what she was doing.

Next Coby went to the Naturally Fresh factory where they make the salad dressing and wing sauce.  His dad used to visit the factory often, but Coby hasn’t been since he was 16.  He finds out that the morale is much lower since his dad passed away.

He is placed along side with Ricky making sauce.  Ricky didn’t really know Coby’s dad, but had heard how much people liked him.  He said know one talks about his son running the place.

Coby presses Ricky to find out about what people think of the current owner. Ricky tells him he thinks the people hate the current owner, because there were good bonuses and incentives.

His dad would get to know the workers and ask about their families. Coby didn’t want the business and was planning on pursuing a different career until his dad pulled him in a board meeting and announced that he was the new President and CEO.

He pulls in some of the employees he met and reveals to them that he is in fact the president and CEO of the company.  They all looked scared, but only Jimbo had reason to be.   Nobody got fired, but it seemed that Jimbo was close.

I think it is important for CEOs to get to know some of the people that make them all their money.

The last place I worked was a good example of what not to do.  The CEO said he wanted to take the company from good to great.  I had just finished reading the book Good to Great and instead of him getting to know the employees, he set up more layers of management and took away some of the pleasures of working there.

If he passed you in the hall he would look straight ahead and never make eye contact.  Employees that feel like they are viewed as people are happier and more productive than employees that feel they are viewed as a number.

Undercover boss is a show I will continue to watch and I will post my thoughts here. I don’t think I will do a play by play anymore so I don’t spoil it.  I’ll just stick to my thoughts about it.

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