Four Years After "Undercover Boss" The Lesson Remains The Same
Value your people like you value your business
Four years ago (January 22, 2012, to be exact) America watched as I went undercover across several of our service brands at Dwyer Group. I knew it was going to be a life-changing experience. It was season three of the hit reality show “Undercover Boss” on CBS. Every episode promised a grassroots look at companies and their people with some dramatic outcomes. For me, it was a journey I couldn’t wait to take.
I knew I wanted to experience life on the front lines of our service brands. I knew the cameras were going to catch me making mistakes and learning things the hard way. I knew I would probably shed a tear a two (or three or four). I’m wired that way. But the chance that Studio Lambert and the CBS network gave me was much more than all that.
What do employees do when the boss is not around?
The single biggest reason I wanted to participate on the show was to see if our Code of Values – the principles by which we lead the company – were reaching the grassroots of our organization. I knew only what we promoted at corporate headquarters and in front of our organization at planned events. But what about the service professionals employed by our franchise owners out in the field?
Today we have more than 2,500 franchise owners across our service brands who employ almost 12,000 people on the front lines. And they are responsible for delivering our brand promise on more than 3 million service calls a year. Do they live and lead with values?
Through the power of “Undercover Boss” (wig, heavy makeup, fake fingernails and all) I would see what those service professionals were doing when their boss was not around.
Employees are the face of the business to customers
Meet Faith Brown (my undercover name) on the job with my fake nails, dark wig and heavy makeup.
Not only did these employees know about these values, but many of them also talked about them with me as if I was just another rookie learning the ropes. That was a huge win. They clearly understood this was something special about our organization and our service brands.
But they also shared their honest feelings about what could be better or what they didn’t understand about the Code of Values in some cases. These were critical experiences for me that have made a lasting impact. It resulted in stronger communications, new programs, and a heightened awareness about how our values are referenced on a regular basis.
It was great to reveal myself to these individuals at the end of the show and, more importantly, thank them for letting me see the business through their eyes. People on the front lines of any business need to know how much they matter. And after walking in their shoes, I understand that on a whole different level.
Never lose site of the impact your people make every single day
The day we finished taping the episode, I saw a service van on the road and thought to myself, ‘I wonder where he is headed and who’s problem he is going to solve? He is about to make someone’s day so much better.’
Four years later, that still happens. I’ll be driving along, and there goes a service van or repair truck. No matter the business, I know there is a valuable person inside headed somewhere important. I hope he knows how crucial he is to his boss, to his company, and to the customer he is about to meet.
Soon a customer will open his or her door and be very thankful that an expert has arrived. If that expert can live and lead with values, that business will do amazingly well!