I watched three past episodes of Undercover Boss via online streaming on November 14, 2014. From all the episodes, I selected the Subway episode in season 2 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1MHpTiz0kI); the Philly Pretzel Factory episode in season 3 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrA0dHRsWXM); and the Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt episode in season 5 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L81k_oLFvjM).
The first episode I watched was the Subway story. In this episode, Chief Development Officer Don Fertman worked undercover as a sandwich artist in four Subway branches across the United States. The most interesting part of the episode was Don’s life in the kitchen. He got to know the people who ran the stores, especially their dreams, motivations, and ideas. Furthermore, he got the chance to make the sandwiches, which he said he had never done before.
I liked that Don kept asking questions in the way market business researchers should. That was when he got insights about the things that would keep the company at its best. The learning he got from the first employee was an ultimate sandwich idea. With this, not only did he get some free innovation advice; he also discovered the talents that would shine more if given the right opportunity. At the end of the episode, he offered the job to the rightful employee.
I believe he made the right decision because these are the kind of people any business needs. He was able to determine the skills and competencies that would further enhance the company’s operations. Overall, this was an episode that was full of business wisdom. If an entrepreneur wants his business to grow, this is the episode to watch because Don’s responses to the frontline bosses provided golden insights.
The next episode I got to see was the Philly Pretzel Factory episode. CEO Dan DiZio worked in different roles in each of the four branches he visited. In doing so, he faced the most threatening issue in the world of franchising. His franchisee was improvising way off the system. Unfortunately, Dan’s cover was blown by the first subordinate, the franchisee who was going rogue. From there, I started to dislike the episode.
Dan was angered that his franchisee were including menu items that weren’t supposed to be there. I entirely disagreed with his response. I was expecting top bosses to handle such situations well. If I were in his place, I’d do what Don from Subway did. I would look at it as an innovative idea. From what I understood, it was the off- menu items that was saving the business from closing down. This meant that the food product was profitable. The level of innovation was beyond the first Subway boss’ idea because here, the product has been market tested and it worked.Nonetheless, by the end of the episode, Dan made the new product official. This can be related to the principles on innovation as a source of differentiation and the importance of research and development in making a company sustainable.
The last episode I watched was the one on Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. I have to say this was the episode I enjoyed the most. CEO Amit Kleinberger was the youngest undercover boss, yet his wisdom was ageless. He not only did the usual store tasks; he also visited the farm where his primary product is created from scratch. With this, the viewers gained a good understanding of the importance of supply management. In Kleinberger’s case, he had to take care of cows so that they would produce quality milk for the yogurt. His being there and actually experiencing how to take care of the cows, especially while delivering a calf, would propel him towards his billion-dollar goal.
The most interesting part was with the second employee . Clearly, the employee was not emulating the values of the company, which Kleinberger expected from his key frontline. Here, I thought that if I were the CEO, I would immediately fire the misbehaving staff. Yet in the end when Kleinbrerger revealed who he was, he ended up giving the staff another chance. He sent her to training, although she did not continue to pursue her career with Menchie’s. Either way, Kleinberger did his job well in keeping his company strong. Through his participation in the series, he was able to keep the best employees and at the same time weed out the ones who didn’t live up to the company’s standards.
As I’ve watched the episodes, I noticed that there are various types of bosses. However, regardless of their differences in doing things, it is important for a leader to be mindful of their responses. Everyone in this series is a stakeholder to the company. Thus, the bosses must respond in such a way that they would enable them to maintain a good working relationship with their employees. The employees and even the franchisees may not be with the company forever but their family and friends would know how they felt during their employment, and one advice from a family member may spread like bad press.
Being considerate would prevent this. It is important to note that each person undergoes experiences that may be extremely difficult. For a boss to understand that and respond in a way that turns circumstances into a positive attitude is a great feat. This I believe is the characteristic that a boss must possess if he were to lead a company into bigger goals. Getting to places surely do not involve burning bridges; rather, a boss has to find solutions and when he can’t, he creates one.
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