I swear, I wasn’t brought to Fistful of Talent to be the
Reality Show Ranter but sometimes I just can’t help myself, because these shows are a
breeding ground for HR and Culture lessons. Today, however, unlike my rants on
Kate Gosselin, Jersey
Shore, or Cake Boss, I
actually have a reality show to highlight that I think all of you should watch.
CBS is airing a new season of Undercover Boss, which is a
show where the CEO of a different organization each week goes undercover to
meet with employees on the front line. While the CEOs are undercover, they talk
candidly to employees asking them questions about corporate policies, employee
engagement, and their personal circumstances. Every episode I’ve seen so far
has completely opened the CEOs eyes to the good, the bad, and the ugly about
their company. It has highlighted the disconnect between Senior Leadership and
the front line employee and has inspired the CEOs to make some significant
changes within their organizations.
Do I think this concept is feasible in every
organization? Yes, with a few tweaks.
As the boss, you might not be able to go ‘undercover’ but
when we break down what these CEOs are doing to the most basic concept, they’re
getting employees to trust them enough to share their biggest roadblocks. Once
they have this information, they’re coming up with ways to knock them down.
In several organizations that I’ve worked in, we’ve set up
Employee Advocacy programs that follow the same concept. Here are the basic
components to these programs:
employees within the company whom other employees trust and confide in and
focus on helping them become Employee Advocates.
them how to be listeners, mentors, and coaches. Then encourage them to help employees
solve their own problems by approaching their managers, having difficult
conversations with peers, setting strong goals, etc.
base with the Advocates frequently and ask them to share with you the
trends that they’re seeing. This is very
different than trying to get them to tell you details about their
conversations with specific employees. All you want to know are general
trends about engagement, happiness, etc.
together the trends you’re seeing and do what you can to fix any problems.
Of course, this is an extremely simplified version of how to
set up an Employee Advocacy program, but once they’re in place they become a
great way to keep tabs on the engagement of your front line employees.
Have any of you ever set up a similar program in your
Marisa is a Culture Coach for small and quickly growing organizations trying to establish the infrastructure required to create a company full of passionate, motivated, and engaged employees. She has held culture and engagement roles for two nationally recognized great places to work, founded the research and networking group Culture Fanatics, and is an industry recognized blogger. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and twin boys and is looking forward to the day she can bike across the country to raise money for MS research. @marisakeegan.