Monday, February 8, 2010

Interesting New TV Show: Undercover Boss

After the Superbowl last night, my husband and I watched Undercover Boss. It's a new reality show where the Company CEO goes undercover in his own company. The PROMO says: "The economy is going through tough times. And many working Americans blame wealthy CEOs who are out of touch with their own companies. But some bosses are willing to take extreme actions to make their businesses better. Each week, we'll follow the boss of a major corporation as they go undercover in their own companies."

Last night we watched Larry O'Donnell, president and chief operating officer of Waste Management, venture into the depths of his company's tough jobs, including working on a recycling assembly line, picking up trash off of trash heaps in a city dump, working with a clerk who was doing the job of 3 people that were not replaced when they were laid off, and vacuuming human waste out of porta-johns.

I liked the show although it didn't really ring true at the end. I do recommend it to others as a very nice "feel good" show. The worker was the hero. The CEO really listened, admitted there were some problems - though he blamed them all on lower and middle management, and said he was going to make changes. For me, the most fun was seeing the CEO right in the dreggs of every day work of the people and filming the problems. It even touched my heart when the CEO shed a tear for a worker that was losing her house -- and he helped her. Would he do it for all workers who had these types of problems? Probably Not. But this made for good TV.

In the weeks to come, we will see the CEO from Hooters, 7-11 and Bakery Express.
You can catch last night's show on On-Demand for CBS. This youtube provides a nice preview. Future shows are on Sunday nights from 9 - 10 ET.

Note: My other favorite new show -- "Men of a Certain Age" on Monday Nights on TNT (10pm ET) with Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher .


Anonymous said...

That show will be a bunch of BS.

Everyone will have seen a picture of the CEO of the company, no sneaking in to see what's going on. About as subtle as a one man band playing Ragtime in the library.

The underling managers will hand pick and bully the CEO's "coworkers" to keep things "quiet", "sanitary", and visually appealing on the lower levels.

I worked for a multi billion dollar corporation for about 15 years and five CEO's, and offhand comments in the corporate hallway by the CEO can do a lot of damage by second tier lackeys scrambling to do the perceived will of the emperor. And I've seen the results from frightened mid level managers bearing the brunt of "cutting the fat" by top level corporate officers who didn't have the slightest clue about the work being performed where the money is made - on the bottom.

I haven't seen the show, but I call BS.


Dee said...

I agree. I thought it was phony. Who doesn't know their own CEO. But in this case, the guy seemed, at least on the surface, like a nice guy who appreciated the people. It was good to see him in the trenches like the front liners.

Proletariat Defender said...

Ceo's are not carved from wood. The are not picked from trees. They were not cast in a foundry.

In short, they started in the company somewhere, and generally lower on the ladder than what we give them credit for.

There is often a dis-connect though between the CEO and the 'grunts' of a company. They generally don't interact that much and as such don't get the chance to appreciate what each other is doing.

Besides, it is the shareholders that are mostlly responsable for bad policies that effect the employees.

Anonymous said...

I believe most CEO's are MBA's who have never worked a real job any day of their life.

I looked into the board of directors at the company I mentioned - they had their fingers in something like 56 different entities, all serving on each other's boards and washing each other's backs. It was essentially the same board at many of those companies with the main difference of who was CEO.

They served on the boards of utilities, defense contractors, real estate and land development, education, and more. Some of it had to do with competing companies, with half the board at one company and the other half at a competitor.

I wondered how they had the time to devote to one company, much less dozens of others, and with the interlocking boards of directors they could do much to manipulate the economy. And they were catered to hand and foot everywhere they had a spot on the board.

The stock holders main function is to provide capital for which they expect a return on their investment - and they generally don't care how it's accomplished.

They might voice individual opinions at a stock holders meeting, but money talks.

The company structure, under the guidance of the board of directors, manages and directs the work force.

If there is a union, the company negotiates with the union concerning the contract, not a committee of stock holders negotiating with the union.

And, if there is a decision to attempt to bust the union, that comes from the CEO.

Not all, but most are into the greed. I believe most CEO's no idea how the company makes money at the bottom, and they don't care. They just want the money to be made, if not to expectations (reasonable or not) "your replacement will". And the ultimate interest is enriching themselves - we have recently see many cases of CEO's looting companies as much as they can and for as long as they can, deceiving stock holders and screwing employees until the whole thing comes crashing down.

And while everyone else is trying to dig out of the wreckage, the CEO gets an "executive incentive award", a bonus.

That's unbridled capitalism, my friend.


Dee said...

Well I watched Undercover Boss again tonight.

I did not like the CEO of Hooters. He seemed pompous and was not in to the work or the people as the CEO of Waste Management was.

Seemed even more phony than the last one. oh well.

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