May 18, 2015

Partly because it’s one of the way’s I like to prepare for important conferences and partly because I like seeing people be rewarded when they're brilliant, I love Undercover Boss.  If you haven’t seen it, I suggest that everyone committed to making their organisation successful does so.  It emphasizes the point that good corporate behaviour should be what people do when the boss isn’t looking and not just when he/she is.  Frankly, I think it’s the only kind of behaviour that counts. 

If you haven’t already done an undercover boss on your organisation by getting someone to experience your business first-hand, how do you know what it’s like for your customers, clients and staff to be working with or for your organisation?  Truly what its’ like and not just what you’re told it’s like.  It doesn't have to be for TV but the information it will provide you with is worth 10 times more than any report your team will give you.  When I’ve gone undercover for clients - across a range of sectors - I know they've been both appalled & delighted in equal measure by what they hear back.  

Board reactions vary but when I came across this article on the 7 stages of grief, I was struck by how few changes it would take (in bold italics) to adapt it to the response that bosses have to our  feedback;

  1. SHOCK & DENIAL-
    You will probably react to learning of the experience with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the experience at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.
  2. PAIN & GUILT-
    As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable disappointment. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the disappointment fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs. 

    You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn't do with your organisation. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.
  3. ANGER & BARGAINING-
    Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the experience on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion. 

    You may rail against fate, questioning "Why us?" You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair ("I will never drink again if you just bring him back")
  4. "DEPRESSION", REFLECTION, LONELINESS-
    Just when your colleagues may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be "talked out of it" by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.

    During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your shortfall, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you didpreviously and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.
  5. THE UPWARD TURN-
    As you start to adjust to life without your comfort zone your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift slightly.
  6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH-
    As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without him or her.
  7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE-
    During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this realisation. But you will find a way forward.

    You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your current situation without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of working

Which only begs the question; are you brave enough to get an Undercover Report on your organisation?  

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