I watched Undercover Boss last night - and was mighty impressed. Impressed with both the programme and with Martyn Birks, the Marketing Director of Poundworld.
Firstly the programme itself. It's good to see a business programme that is 'real' without X Factor type egotistical 'high flyers' wanting to impress Sir Alan by 'shafting' their colleagues or naive 'entrepreneurs' trying to get the backing of The Dragons and being humiliated in the process.
I know, I know, it's edited, but there is a 'real feel' to the whole thing which shows 'warts and all' when it comes to business. I can't help thinking that anyone watching would have recognised, to a degree, their business and some of the issues raised. For example.....
- The 'gap' between 'Head Office' and the 'real world'
- Unsupported 'middle managers' under pressure
- A lack of communication up, down and across the business
- Disengaged and frustrated employees
Martyn Birks was genuinely shocked. Yes, I know, you could argue why didn't he know what was going on? But at least he went and found out, and then crucially.... took ACTION!
So, some questions for anyone in business..........
- Is this happening in your business?
- What can you do to find out?
- What WILL you do to find out?
Your challenge is to remove your 'blind spots'.
You might not need to go 'Undercover' to do this, but why not try...
- 'Standing in Your Own Queues' - find out what it's like on your 'front line' - ring up your own business, visit your own reception, depot or shop. If you're a small business and they'd recognise you, get someone else to do it for you.
- Ask Your People - what do they think about what's good, bad, average? A simple questionnaire can be a good start - Get someone else to oversee it, not you. Alternatively, get some pizzas in, set up a discussion group to highlight 'key issues'. Note - get them to do it without you being there!
- STOP, START, CONTINUE - find out what your people, colleagues and bosses think that you personally should 'Stop, Start, Continue' doing. Again, this could be a simple questionnaire or group discussion - it's about removing the 'blind spots' we all have. Please remember..... the truth sometimes hurts - you have to listen to what's said ( One client of mine was told by a team member 'STOP breathing'!)
Whatever you do, the critical bit is DOING SOMETHING ABOUT WHAT YOU FIND OUT!