5 Ways to be an Undercover Boss without the Reality Show


5 Leadership Touch Points to Stay In Touch!

I always have tissues when I watch an episode of  “Undercover Boss ” where there is  a top executive going undercover,  to experience what  life is really like for their employees and customers.  During the series, there is usually a “Moment of Truth” where the Boss experiences some good, bad or ugly first hand and makes a decision to make it right or reward an exceptional employee.  There’s also occasionally a bad apple that tells the story of a bad management or customer experience.

However CEO’s and Senior Leaders  need not wear a  disguise to listen to the  heartbeat of staff and customers. Here’s 5 CEO touch points that will keep you out of  your Ivory Tower and into the head and heart of your  customers and employees:

  1.  Greet all New Hires:  Recently I observed a CEO who  despite a frantic schedule, makes time to speak at every class of new leaders regarding the company’s guiding principles. Another CEO insisting on leading the 2-day class of high potential leaders.  First impressions are important and when they come from the top, even more so.
  2.  5 Calls/5 Emails: Ideally you might  be able to actually provide customer support by taking and handling  5 calls, handling 5 email or social media inquiries.  But if not, at least take time to monitor this touch-point.  You would be surprised at the problems and solutions you would otherwise not discover. The creators of Air B & B and Uber actually stand behind their product by providing rides and hosting.
  3.  Host Town Halls/Lunches: Transparency and willingness of the CEO to have a conversation with staff and answer questions is important to staying in touch.   Select a format that works best for you and your organization via either a quarterly town hall or lunches with random employees once a month.   Provide a means for employees and customers to write you with questions and recommendations.
  4.  Walk with not past your staff:  I once worked in a Global Headquarters, where a CEO walked right past organization staff without a  smile or greeting as though they were invisible.  If your organization is  at all about service and accessibility, make sure you don’t carry an  “Emperor without Clothes” demeanor.
  5.  Celebrate:  At all levels of management as in life, we tend to focus on the next goal or challenge vs celebration of what has been accomplished. Don’t miss an opportunity to celebrate achievements and what’s right vs what’s wrong with this picture.

About the Author: This article may be reprinted with attribution.

Rosemary Rein is an Author and Keynote Speaker and Facilitator on Leadership and Innovation.  Rosemary hosts Leadership and Executive Team Retreats near her home in Napa Valley, California and at exotic retreat destinations around the world.





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