Watching Undercover Boss on CBS makes one think of how many bosses out there should be learning a few things on how to treat their employees.
Throughout the series the high and mighty CEOs, Presidents and owners of some of the largest companies in the United States take a little trip to work in the shoes of the lowly employee paying their huge salary. It’s a humbling experience for most of these guys since they figure out they would be fired if they had to actually do the job of the people they thought were just peons.
From Mike White, Chairman, President and CEO of DIRECTV to Lucky Strike Lanes’ Steven Foster, these guys are learning something most employers don’t want to know – how the other side lives and works. Struggling through their training, the frustration on the faces of America’s top dogs is priceless.
How many of us would like our boss to come and work with us for a day, stepping into our shoes and finding out how hard our jobs are without the proper tools, with ridiculous “company policies” and more red tape the customer doesn’t want to hear about? I’m sure that’s a collective hand raising!
So far in the past four years the collection of bosses I’ve had has made me realize it doesn’t really take any kind of brain to have a business. There are no set molds bosses fit into. In fact more nuts then I know can fit in the bowl of pathetic bosses. Here’s a list:
Motel – Mom & Pop owned establishment – Eight hours training – more like one – but he was there for eight hours. Learn to make a bed and clean the bathroom from a guy who has no cleaning supplies except what the Dollar Store carries. There are 21 rooms but you can only have in the cash register $20 for change. No discounts and if anything breaks, don’t fix it. Do all the laundry, don’t hire any help and by the way, you’ve got to deal with the breaker on the hot water heater since there is a 20 gallon tank servicing a house and 12 rooms and an 80 gallon tank servicing 9 rooms. If anything happens, I don’t have a cell and I’m nine hours away. Good luck and here’s the keys. Salary plus house for compensation – never got paid – not even once. And about the mold – just pick the mushrooms off the vending room floor – it’ll be alright. By the way, I don’t pay my taxes because I’ve declared myself not a United States Citizen however I’m a City Councilman where I live – What?
Restaurant – Mom & Pop owned establishment – Cajun food seating 150 people – two staff members and a tiny kitchen. Let’s open at 4:30pm and bring the groceries from Sam’s Club at 6pm. You’ve got to prep all the food and cook all the orders because we can’t afford to hire any staff. Take the money out of the register as fast as it goes in so the Marshall’s don’t come in and confiscate it to pay our back taxes. Oh, by the way, refill the liquor bottles in the back room from this stock over here because we can’t get any deliveries. If you run out, go over to the liquor store across the street – he’s the only guy who will take my check. And – don’t forget to book all the bands. We’ve got the biggest live stage around here and we should be full in here. Don’t throw the bread pudding – it’s my secret recipe and could break a window. Yes – it’s those little black bricks over there. I know we’re Cajun Cuisine but if anyone asks for me – I’m not here. I’ll be tweaking my guitars downstairs making them look really old so I can make $1500 a pop on saying they’re vintage. Wow – is that legal?
Hunting Resort – Real Estate developer – the former were a bit shady, but this guys was just wacko! Talking to him on the phone, there’s 440 acres and several houses which are bunk type buildings and a couple of other rooms. People come and hunt and stay on the property paying a small fee for the access and room. Don’t have to do laundry until they leave. No real housekeeping and no real meals to cook. Just basic maintenance and a few other things around the place.
Crossing the narrow bridge with a moving van – the first thing we hear after the description of the property from this avid hunting real estate guy – in a high pitched screeching voice while waving his hand wildly – we here the sweet sounds of “Hi baby ducks, hi baby ducks – how are you today!” “Here baby deer, come here – who are you today baby deer?” To which, the deer – not so baby looking – turn around and look like – “Who is this nut?” and the ducks fly off as quick as they can to get away from the screeching! Oh boy, this guy is a loon – but maybe it’s a fluke. Let’s keep going – we didn’t come 500 miles for nothing. Our new digs are a single wide trailer which looks like it’s encased in some sort of building. No steps, just some sort of weird deck. Ants everywhere and the construction is smooth nails about ready to fall out of the wood it’s hammered into. Horses running wild and there’s some trash right next to the lake where you can fish to your hearts delight if you have your own pole. Dust everywhere and tomorrow is construction day. Get up bright and early to learn, let’s mow 20 yards in town. It’s only an hour away. Oh didn’t I tell you, we have to mow these once a week. And by the way, when I said don’t worry about your food, I’ve got ya covered – there’s a food bank down the road and since we live in one county and work in the other, I’ll make sure if you need verification for anything, you got it. Now take a few hours out and go get yourself some food.
Oh and by the way, that salary I said you could have – well, that’s minus the housing so really I’m only going to pay you folks $150 a week – that’s together – no separate because you’ll have to owe me for the living quarters too. And since you’ll be using my supplies, I’m charging you for that as well. And if you don’t like that – well, too bad, you’re here now. The last guy tried to get me to pay and he’s not here anymore. And – you guys are going to have to sign a release form in case any of you get hurt because I have a tendency to carry a gun, wield sharp objects at people like chain saws and have you pull me out of ditches while I’m sitting in the tractor burying it up to the axles. I’ll drive, you dig.
Um – what? That’s not the agreement – we said a salary plus housing – standard in caretaker positions. You said we were caretaking the property not going and mowing your lawns from your other stuff in town. The Food Bank? Are you serious? Then you’re going to charge me to use toilet paper? I don’t want your paper – I don’t want your supplies. I just want my money and I didn’t agree to market this place – what’s the deal?
Motel – Mom & Pop – Salary plus housing – you manage the property. Come here from three states away and we own another motel too. A franchise – it’s around the corner. Get up at 5:30am, make a crappy breakfast because I’m really cheap. Don’t bother me with the details, just get the money. And those beautiful rooms you remodeled – I love them, but I’m going to do it myself with cheap materials. I’ll get the cheapest paint I can find so you have to do three coats but make sure you remodel one room per day including refinishing all the furniture and the bathroom floor. We have to have these rooms open to rent them. One room a day – no less and if you can’t do that – you must be stupid. Don’t forget to do the laundry and the housekeeping. I know the dryer is broken but you can take it down to the laundromat. Lug it in your car and then bring it back. Fold it all and make sure you do it before 6pm when people start checking in. Also, call all the local motels, find out their prices and then make it higher. Yes, I realize this is a cheap motel and it really pretty much stinks, but you can get $99 to $149 for these rooms. No less, no less or there will be hell to pay! I’ll call you every hour to see how many rooms are rented and at what price. Too bad if they make a cancellation – charge them anyway – I don’t want to hear about any excuses – just do it. And this is your house – this rat infested hell hole behind me. – That’s yours – I’ll yell at you when I want, how I want and in front of customers just because I can. Good luck and show me the money!
Motel – Mom & Pop – Salary plus an apartment – manage my property and we’ll manage the restaurant. We haven’t moved yet, I know you came all this way, but we’ll be moving at the end of the week. Here’s the keys to one of the upper rooms. You can stay there. Also, there’s six months of back paperwork we haven’t done. Too busy, no time. The laundry room has crap everywhere, keep that going and don’t let it get behind. Check people in and out, train the staff and eat at the restaurant. We’ll take good care of you. – Two weeks later – Great job catching up all the books and straightening the laundry room. You’ve also successfully trained the staff and made everything run smooth. Now, we want you to remodel the rest of these 17 rooms. I know we told you there were only 5 to finish, but really we only had two done when you got here. There’s more to do and you can do that instead of managing. Don’t talk to the people in town, they don’t like us. Don’t leave to find another job because we have to have you work here. I know we agreed on a certain salary, but I’m only going to pay you $.75 an hour since you’ll be using all my tools, live under my roof and also eat from the restaurant. Sleeping? LOL – there’s not sleeping here. We have to tear out the whole kitchen floor and do it between Christmas and New Years. I got a bid of $40,000 to do it but you can do it for $200 right? You can do it can’t you? Don’t forget to check all the pipes in the middle of the night – it gets around -25 degrees here so if they freeze it will cost me a lot of money. No – I don’t want to run the water because I’m a moron and don’t know what I’m doing. I would rather run around every night and worry about the freezing pipes. No heat tape – no – we don’t need that. Make it look like a million bucks but don’t put any junction boxes in the lights or water board behind the showers. Use this cheap paint, put drywall mud on the paneling and do this knockdown. If I don’t like it, you’ll do it again. I won’t pay you more, but you’ll do it again. You haven’t proven you can manage yet, so I don’t know if we’ll be moving after all, Cinderella. You just don’t seem to cut it and “bing” now – you’re contract labor! Huh?
Storage Facility – Corporate owned (white collar crooks) – We want you to move here because we are firing the other managers since he has cancer. Can you come right away? My kids are sick and I can’t train you, learn the system, sell the units and make sure you collect the payments. Make all the phone calls, answer all the questions and don’t go over this much postage – you only get so much postage and after that – too bad. You’re email doesn’t work so you can’t answer questions, get forms or send documents online, just use this old fax here. Also, you’re doing a fabulous job – you’ve collected more money in your first week then we ever thought you could – and now – after two and a half weeks – you’re terminated. I know you moved all this way and spent a lot of money. I realize your family of three lived in a one room ( not one bedroom) efficiency apartment. I know we promised you a three bedroom house which you never even got, and I know I’m giving you only 14 days to clear out, but – that’s the breaks. Have a nice life and get out ….
Wow – do you think any of these guys should be on Undercover Boss? Naw – these guys are must plain nuts!