Undercover Boss again…


As you know, here at ideasUK we love the Channel 4 show Undercover Boss. In case any of you have never seen this show, it is about a senior manager going back to the floor and working in different parts of the business for a week.

Last night it was the turn of Peter Marks, Chief Executive of Luminar (a nightclub and leisure organisation). The first few minutes of the show were very telling with Peter admitting that as CEO he has not engaged with the employees of the business and he wanted to cut through all the hierarchy and get to know the real employees of the group

Throughout the show, time and time again, Peter was amazed at the dedication of his employees and how they were going over and above what was expected of them to keep the business running on a day to day basis.

One particular story that was featured was Oscar a staff member who worked in a nightclub in Kingston-upon-Thames, now this club was a little down at heel and not far from another outlet of the group that was almost their flagship outfit.

Now Oscar absolutely loved working in that little run down nightclub and did everything that was possible to keep it afloat and in business, even to the point that he was training to be an electrician at his own cost so he can save the organisation money of maintenance fees.

So, is this out of the ordinary?

Well, in our experience, the majority of employees are not just driven by the wage packet at the end of the month and do take great pride in their work. I could give you a hundred examples of people working extra hours without pay to get the job done or going over and above what is expected to make a customer happy. The majority of people just get on and do this every day with no recognition.

A good quality employee engagement programme recognises excellence in a business and recognises those behaviours in the organisation you wish to encourage.

One issue we see every day at ideasUK is that there is a shortage of senior managers who have both people and business skills. Sometimes, by chasing that elusive extra pound in revenue, managers lose sight of the fact that their employees are actually human beings too.

Have a think about all the great leaders in business over the past 30 years, they possessed great people management skills and recognised employees at every turn

So, what is the key to success:

  • Recognise behaviours you want to encourage
  • Make engagement part of the organisational culture
  • Engagement needs to come from the top
  • Small gestures of recognition can mean much more than the big show stopping awards
  • Remember that your employees are human beings not numbers on a spreadsheet

To see how well a big organisation does engagement, take a look here to see how HSBC handles engagement.

If you want to watch the show, it is available here on Channel 4 OD

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