The top ‘undercover boss’

What? Yet another reality show on network  television?

This one is on CBS and called “Undercover Boss.” Each week the head of some major U.S. company exchanges business attire for the uniform the company’s employees wear and goes “undercover,” using a different name and working in the trenches and taking direction from a superviser as the new kid on the block. The identity of the boss is revealed at the end during a meeting in the board room with the workers featured during the episode.

Some reviewers have panned it. I watched just the first episode, so can’t speak to quality of any of the others. But I felt the the boss featured in the one I watched — Larry O’Donnell, chief operating officer of Waste Management — really took to heart a lot of what he saw that his employers had to endure and was sincere in saying it would make him a better leader. He took what he learned to improve how the company runs its operation and treats its workers, even taking into consideration how job stress can affect a person’s family life. Who could pan that outcome?

I am not writing to tout the show but really to draw attention to what prompted me to even mention it — an Feb. 14 editorial by Tom Dermody, editor of  The Catholic Post, newspaper of the Diocese of Peoria, Ill., headlined “Pleasing the most important undercover Boss.”

He cleverly used the show as a jumping off point to discuss a first for his diocese: a Feb. 27 faith-based seminar for Catholic business leaders and managers. “The topics to be presented,” he writes, are “as real as it gets for Catholic managers who take their faith seriously: What is the role of faith in the workplace? How do I integrate my faith into my work? What role do ethics and morality play in my work life?

“Important questions indeed,” Dermody continues, “because we all work for an undercover Boss who routinely takes the guise of co-workers, especially those the world sees ‘as least.’ Do we recognize Christ in everyone? Does our faith make a difference in our decisions?”

We’ll stay tuned for a Catholic Post follow-up on the seminar.

One Response

  1. I appreciate the concept of the show. I admire the honesty of the CEO’s. The Only thing that does not rest well with me,is that only a hand full of people from the companies are awarded for their work. I believe these people are truly worthy but what about the rest of the company? I also understand that if every employee was given a bonus the size of the ones handed out on the show, companies would not make it. I believe it is creating pipe dreams that companies in general are going to wake up and share it’s wealth with the foundation on which supports it. It is a show about a select few people who won a “lottery”. The senior management laugh at the foundation workers because they know when that worker wears out, there will be another desperate person willing to work His/ her self to near death to pick up where they left off. Every senior manager should be required to actually work a day a month in the heart of the company. Way too much time is spent in general preparing for “corporate to visit”.

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