With a four-day, relaxing weekend, I've had the chance to catch some shows I've never seen before. Yesterday TLC had a marathon of the show Undercover Boss. The premise of the show is a top executive of a large corporation goes "undercover" to see what it's like on the front lines with the employees. It's a great concept and it captivated me during the one episode I watched.
The co-owner of White Castle went undercover at various restaurant locations and even worked the line at the location that packages the frozen sliders. He met a wide variety of employees. One woman he met works because her husband is on disability and she is trying to lose weight to maintain good health. One young Hispanic man who wanted to go to culinary school but his parents weren't supportive. He was working to save money for college. At a break, he shared his homemade salsa with the boss and the boss realized what a passion this was for the young man. Another worker had a young blind son and was the epitome of a future leader. Always had a great attitude and was top notch in customer service. All of these people made a huge impact on the boss.
When the reveal came and they learned his true identity, they were shocked. But the reaction from them and what he did for them was amazing. The woman with the husband on disability was tasked to help start a wellness program for employees. The aspiring culinary worker was given a scholarship to further his education. And the father with the young blind son...he was tasked to write curriculum for a new training program to groom workers for leadership. Along with that, a $5000 trust was started to help his son's education.
I was so moved by this episode. But the icing on the cake was his final comment. The boss said "I sit behind a desk making decisions based on numbers. Now when I make those decisions, it won't be just based on numbers but on people...real people who make our business what it is today." If every CEO had that perspective, think how much different corporate America would be.