Thanks to Charlie Duff for reminding me that Undercover Boss is on again tonight.
In theory, it should be impossible to make a programme like Undercover Boss. Even in large organisations people should know what the man or woman at the top looks like. Two years ago a study by Towers Perrin found that senior leadership visibility was one of the most significant drivers of employee engagement. That’s a posh way of saying that managers can achieve a hell of a lot just by getting out of their offices and meeting people.
Even in geographically dispersed organisations, regular communication from the most senior executives makes a big difference. People are no longer as deferential as they once were. Even the most junior people watch the actions of senior executives and evaluate them. They expect leadership by example. The remote corporate director of yesteryear, who spent his days in his oak-panelled office, just won’t cut it any more. However, many bosses still don’t get this which is why TV channels can still make programmes like Undercover Boss.
Anyway, rant over. Tonight’s episode is very topical, given the massive spending cuts which are about to hit the public sector. Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, who has to take £50 million off his organisation’s costs over the next three years, goes undercover to work on the frontline. It will be interesting to see what he learns and if his staff give him any money-saving ideas.
Charlie will be blogging about it as it happens. I’ll have to record it as I shall be out on the piss networking with some important contacts this evening.