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As you could tell indigenous Monday"s "Undercover Boss": What clean Toilets can Teach Execs, i was absolutely skeptical about the monitoring value of act a reality TV show. And, choose everybody that watched and also reviewed the show, i made specific assumptions based generally on how the present was produced and edited.

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As it turns out, some of those assumptions were right, and also some the them to be dead wrong. Yet what yes, really surprised me was the genuine reason why Larry O"Donnell, president and COO that Waste monitoring - a $13 billion agency with 45 thousands employees - go the show. And I may have actually been wrong about Kevin, too.

Here"s the truth about what really went down and why, from a fascinating interview with the Undercover boss himself and also his VP of this firm communications, Lynn Brown. Let"s acquire right to it, chandelier we?


Tobak: since you took over operations in 2004, you"ve controlled to save profit margins trending up and to the right. Doing a display like this strikes me as a risky move for an to work guy. Therefore why do it? Why danger rocking the boat?

O"Donnell: I"ll tell you precisely. As soon as Lynn an initial brought this chance to me, i told she she to be absolutely crazy. I"m a reality kind person and there is no way I"m doing reality television. Yet the much more we talked around it, well, we"d been functioning really hard for the last numerous years on our employee engagement, getting people engaged at every level the the company and opened up communication. We do employee surveys and, together we talked about it, this seemed choose a really unique possibility to drive the engagement.

And I have the right to tell friend we obtained it right due to the fact that just the variety of emails I"ve received because the promo started has actually been overwhelming. Anyone in the company, they"re every talking around it. They"re see how crucial it is to have actually open communication, talk about the issues that challenge the company, and also pull together as a team and also solve these points working together.

Tobak: I know what a challenge that can be in a large company. It appears that, practically with one fell swoop, you"ve accomplished that.


O"Donnell: That"s specifically right. If you can succeed in act that, do you know how powerful that is because that a company? when you have the right to transform your firm from a ar where human being just present up to collection a paycheck come a firm where they feel appreciated, they feeling recognized, they feel favor they have actually a voice and they end up being engaged in helping you fix the problem, what a an effective company.

Tobak: therefore what space you act to keep it going?

O"Donnell: A couple of months ago, Lynn and I began filming some short, YouTube-like videos the what i learned. And, together I continue to travel approximately the company, I"ll continue to film more, just to get human being talking and also get people engaged.

Brown: We developed social media web page so world will feel empowered to placed their ideas out there. We"ve obtained a Facebook page that the employees are really embracing -- they"re placing their feelings the end there. We"ve got an idea adjust program and we hope to pull out what people are thinking so the he doesn"t need to go undercover again.

O"Donnell: Yeah. We"ve operated with Gallup to carry out an yearly survey that all of our employees get involved in. And also then we have action planning in ~ every level that the company, and also we measure up management"s engagement score.

We desire to improve that engagement score throughout the firm because we"ve checked out the affect that having actually an involved workforce can have top top the company. Who better to ask how to improve the agency than the world on the front line doing those jobs each and also every day?

Tobak: So girlfriend actually have an engagement metric?


O"Donnell: Yes. Not only is the a metric, it"s in reality in management"s bonuses. Engagement is critical, and this is a totality new method to go around it.

Tobak: speak of your monitoring team, on the show they looked spooked.

O"Donnell: ns take my cap off to the manufacturing team that they were also able to make it look favor that, since they"re not that way. That was the premise the the show, that monitoring is aloof and also sitting in your office and even Kevin, you know, the manager that had the time clock concern --

Tobak: Yeah. Ns was going come ask you about Kevin --

O"Donnell: Well, he"s a an excellent manager. You recognize why he to be "hiding" in his office? because Lynn locked him in there and wouldn"t let him out.

Brown: ns didn"t desire him to acknowledge Larry.

O"Donnell: You experienced it in the epilogue that the show; that is so good and his team is so an excellent that lock were recognized for having one the our ideal recycling facilities in the company.


Tobak: yet it yes, really looked favor you threw the under the bus on nationwide television.

O"Donnell: ns felt terrible. I had no idea it would look the way. Ns don"t know just how they also pieced the together.

Tobak: Well, prefer I said, you take it a huge risk however I think the reward can be there.

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O"Donnell: This is early, just the job after the episode aired, however I"ve already seen so much benefit from this. I"m acquiring emails from people who desire to end up being employees, emails from client who room happy they do organization with us, I"m even hearing from human being who say, "Gee, I desire to end up being a customer."

Last Word: So, it was all about internal communications and employee engagement. Nothing around PR, totally free advertising, or branding. Who would have actually guessed that? Actually, someone did. Kernalkorn, who commented top top the Monday post, nailed it. Props come kernalkorn, whoever friend are. Oh, and also Kevin to be a setup. Go figure.

Image the Waste administration COO Larry O"Donnell courtesy that CBS / Dan Littlejohn

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