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The Good Side of Reality TV!
I was recently viewing one of the most intriguing television shows I have ever seen. It was called Undercover Boss. The entire theme of the show was a behind the scenes exposé of company CEO's going into the field to personally investigate the business operations of their corporate enterprises. The entire process takes place without the knowledge of the managers or employees.
In my previous hub, Pulling the Reality TV Plug, we talked about the down side of reality television. Generally speaking the primary focus of this genre is to generate as much negativity or controversy as possible in order to pursue ratings and produce maximum profits. As a result, typically there isn’t much intrinsic or redeeming value offered in this kind of programming.
This episode of Undercover Boss makes a dramatic departure from the standard formula mentioned above. Instead it reveals a captivating behind the scene view of a large regional fast food restaurant chain call Baja Fresh based out of Cypress California.
CEO, David Kim, disguises himself as a recently hired new employee that has been sent for on site training for various positions. He visits four different locations were we are taken on a first hand excursion like the preverbal
“ Fly on the wall “ to really see what its like out in the field. Although he visited four different locations, we’ll just focus on a particular store in Las Vegas Nevada.
It is a very strong unit within the franchise system, having had consistent sales throughout the recent recession.
Kim is trying to determine what are the best practices and leadership skills that have lead to this great result.
The first exceptional thing he discovers is a young (early twenties) General Manager working for him that takes absolutely ownership of his job and the opportunity he has been given.
A prime revelation of this is when the GM, answers to Kim upon being asked, “ Is this a job for the manager?” - “ I don’t like to just sit around and tell them; I like to get involved myself “. In essence he was saying just because I have people working for me I’m going to lead by example and show them we are in this all together to deliver the very best for our customers!
Attention to Detail
As the day continued, there is a careful attention to detail that is emphasized to the “ new employee “. Examples of this included, when Kim showed up and initially met the GM, with his Baja shirt purposely having several buttons undone and hanging on the outside of his pants. The managers immediately, yet respectfully requested that he button up and tuck in his shirt in order to maintain a sharp professional appearance.
As Kim continues in the kitchen he continues to too push the envelope of carelessness. At each occurrence the young manager challenges his actions in a direct yet tactful way that presents the seriousness required to take a position of leadership and authority at Baja Fresh.
David Kim, the true authority for the entire company is highly impressed (as he reveals later in the show off location) with the deep since of responsible accountability of this store manger and the staff that works with him. As they sat down in the dinning area and began talking about what it takes to run a successful location Kim continued to be amazed. You could sense how pleased he was to have this dedicated employee impacting his bottom line in such a remarkable fashion.
During the recession, this store's sales continued to be strong and bottom line profits stayed steady. It was improbable in light of how other competitors were doing poorly. When pushed as to his “ secret “ he responded with the answer of really getting to know our customers, going the extra mile and giving great customer service.
From time to time the young general manager would exercise authority and treat a loyal customer to lunch by picking up the tab. Kim’s reaction was one of agreement and amazement that he would take such initiative! Upon hearing this he announced, “ no one has ever offered to give me a free meal at a place that I regularly frequent. He seem to agree it was showed creative thinking and great leadership in capturing and maintaining market share.
Aside from that, the manager demanded excellence from his staff in every key area of the company’s operational philosophy.
After discussions with his senior management team, the employees were summoned to the corporate headquarters for an impromptu review of some important up and coming company wide changes. When each of them stepped into the CEO office, who else did the see, non other than Kim without his Charlie Chan classes and fake goatee! Needless to say they were stunned at first.
After the employees regained there composure they were sat down and were showered with praise and thanks for the excellent jobs they were doing.
Depending on the particular interactions with the CEO each person was awarded the following monetary awards
- The first locations general manager was granted an entire franchise at no cost and was told it was a 50K value.
- One employee was given 15K for his single mom and little sibling sisters.
- Another was given 10K to help with community college cost and creating a lifetime memorable event with his father.
- Finally, 7500 dollars was offered to a manger for her new born baby girl's college education fund.
Each employee to a person was overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude! This was a masterful display of reality television showcasing the power of compassionate capitalism.
It just gripped your heart with a joy that people were being lifted up in a way that was so counter to typical business culture.
As much as all of this was a complete surprise for the employees, I believe it was an equally awesome experience for the viewing audience as well.
I hope you agree with me that we need more programming like this that shows the Good Side of Reality TV!
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