Overt Guidance from Undercover Boss

Regardless of your opinion of Undercover Boss (mostly in the realm of hate it/love it, with little in-between), it’s generating fascinating discussion in the workplace. (For example, check out Paul Hebert’s review.)

That discussion is also resulting in important lessons learned for current and prospective managers. I want to highlight a few of them here.

From Sharon Lauby, aka HR Bartender:

  • “Management by walking around [MBWA] still works.”
  • “Speak up when something is wrong.”
  • “Training is not optional.”

From Jane Vanderhorst’s The Inside Voice:

  • “Start the conversation … Are you talking to your employees to understand what they love about their jobs, and what frustrates them?”
  • “Make people part of the solution … How can you engage employees in solutions for challenges that touch them?”
  • Announce the changes … After you get feedback from employees, are you communicating the results back to them?”

I also like Paul’s advice (at the end of his review) on how executives can benefit from the show – tell staff you’re going undercover and then monitor the downstream communication.

Your turn:

What’s your takeaway from the show? Are people in your organization capitalizing on what they’ve learned from watching it?



  • Cherry Woodburn March 9, 2010 Reply

    I haven’t seen it so only speak from the comments and post I just read; and I’m old enough to think how can talking to your employees be “new” and how can everybody not inherently know it’s a good idea. Thanks for listening

  • Sharlyn Lauby March 9, 2010 Reply

    I think regardless of the show itself, there are some takeaways for business leaders. Thanks for pointing those out (and the HR Bartender mention!)

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