Tag Archives: development

A Thought About Undercover Boss


This year I’ve come to enjoy the show Undercover Boss (thanks Netflix!!!). Perhaps I’m late to the party – since its been on for a few years – but it has a lot of relevancy towards leadership and management.

If you haven’t seen this reality show, the plotline is usually very similar: A CEO puts on a disguise and works for a week in the different entry level positions in their company. There will often be a similar collection of examples they’ll encounter: an employee overcoming hardship, an epiphany of a thing or person who shouldn’t be in the position they’re in, and some positive employees working to further the brand of their company. It’s pretty entertaining and I’d recommend it, even if it does feel a little propaganda-ish sometimes.

I was thinking about it today and I realized something: Each of these CEO’s are well-intentioned and probably good people, but they’re disconnected. It’ s not any mystery why; these high-ranking leaders control so many things at once on a daily basis and their responsibilities are plentiful. Being as extremely solution-oriented as I am, I began to ask the question “what can I do to ensure I do not become disconnected, especially as I am in my management job longer – or find myself in an even higher level position in the future?” I came up with a few ideas:

1. Engagement is a daily walk, not a monthly check-in. I need to be present in the lives of those around me, present in their careers, and to let them be present in my life as well.

2. When I am in a position where there are just too many people to know everything about, I will need to ensure my leaders beneath me can be my hands and feet, living out these engagement principles and communicating with me regularly.

3. The focus of any business or role I am ever involved in always must be largely people-based. Whether I’m selling tents at REI or stickers at my previous job at Graphicsland, everything comes back to people. As long as I am genuinely committed to facilitating a culture of excellence in everyone around me, customers will come, sales will be made, and employees will be productive and connected to the business purpose.

These 3 things I pledge. Let this be my contract 🙂


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Filed under business, change management, leadership, observation

Hierarchy of…employee satisfaction


Jez Styles recently posted an interesting article, applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to employee performance and satisfaction. I’d like to respond to that because I think it is a really important concept.

In case you’re not a fellow psychology nerd, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs basically is a pyramid that asserts the most important and foundational needs a person requires are physiological, then safety, then belonging, then esteem/respect, and finally self-actualization at the top. The original idea asserted that it is hard for a person to reach the next level up if a more pressing foundational need is not met. There have been multiple discussions about this idea in the last 50 years and most agree it’s probably not a black and white concept but it is a valuable concept.

Styles does an interesting job applying it to the work environment, suggesting that the employee’s hierarchy of needs are: 1. pay  2. job security  3. belonging  4. sense of value  5. will i grow/develop.  I think this is a commendable application but I do not believe it’s a pyramid.

I’d like to suggest that employees, especially in a millenial and post-millenial society, desire all of these to be met simultaneously. The days are waning where employees just want to “make a buck” (even though those situations are still out there and physiological needs are probably still the most important to meet completely). If you look at it from a productivity standpoint, the most productive employees are employees who have all 5 of those categories met. They are paid well enough to live. They do have job security. They’re constantly reassured that they belong. They believe they have value and are reminded of it reguarly. And definitely not last or least, they believe that they can grow, learn, and advance personally and professionally in their profession.

How often do we as employers and leaders analyze each employee on these five levels and ensure that they’re being done right by us? Do we stress certain areas more than we ought to and neglect others? How can we provide better balance to our most valuable asset, our workforce? Important questions to analyze and balance is paramount.

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Filed under motivation