February 23, 2012 Culture, Leadership

Undercover Boss

Every CEO should be an undercover boss for the day.  The information your managers never give you would amaze you.  On a recent episode of “Undercover Boss” a CBS reality show, the head of a US drive-through food chain broke his cover during filming and shut down a restaurant on the spot, because of how employees were being treated by a manager.

Early in the episode an employee named Todd told the CEO, Rick Silva that his manager treated staff badly and once threatened to take him outside and beat him for not working hard enough.  Todd said he was worried that Stevens would terminate him if he stood up to him, and he needed the job to support his mother.

Checking into these allegations CEO, Rick Silva went undercover.  After doing a little observation on his own Mr. Silva raised allegations to the manager, known in the show only as “Stevens”, about verbally abusing his employees.  The manager retorts that if he didn’t scream at the employees they would not listen to him. What training did he take? 

“I’m not going to let you continue telling me I’m disrespecting my crew. Have you been in the fast food business before?” the manager says.  Mr. Silva tries to maintain his cover, saying “no I haven’t”, but cracks when the manager continues to prod him over his supposed lack of experience.   He finally says to the manager that he does have experience.  Mr. Silva admits “I have been in the restaurant business for over 20 years and I’ve been in the fast food business for over 20 years. I’m the CEO for this company.”

Stevens’ jaw drops as Mr. Silva says: “Right here, right now, we’re going to shut the restaurant down.”

Mr. Silva reopened the store with a new general manager the next morning and sent the offending manager away for more training.  Personally, I would have fired the guy.  No employee should have to deal with a lack of dignity and respect.  But unfortunately, this manager’s style is more common than we would like to believe.  So think about doing your own internal observation, you may learn more than you want to know.