Is it Time for You to Become the Undercover Boss?
After only a few months on the job, Scott Sibella, president and COO of MGM Grand, went undercover at the casino/hotel. His objective? Learn more about the organization's culture while being a guest star on CBS's "Undercover Boss." The recession hit the Las Vegas community hard, triggering high unemployment and widespread housing foreclosures and Sibella wanted to know how badly the recession had impacted morale.
Sibella assumed a few jobs during his week-long adventure including blackjack dealer, front desk agent, roulette dealer, and guest service representative. In each, he shadowed an employee, as well as trying to perform the various duties himself (usually with limited success).
Sibella was like so many of us senior managers--so far removed from the front lines that we don't have a true understanding of the day-to-day business operations. Although Sibella investigated many aspects of MGM Grand, we've highlighted four indicators that will provide you a solid understanding of what is or isn't happening in your own business.
Processes. Everything Eddie, an MGM Grand blackjack dealer, does is designed to give a great customer experience--even if the customer doesn't win. Are your processes designed with the customer in mind? Make it easy for customers to do business with your company.
Invest in learning and development. Don, the roulette dealer, knew the strict rules that a roulette dealer must follow. As he was training Sibella, Sibella committed the ultimate sin of a dealer, putting his hands in his pockets. Don immediately told him that was an act that could get him fired on the spot and further explained how a roulette dealer should do his/her job. Do your employees receive the training they need to understand policies, procedures, workflow, and business systems? Be sure to give them the resources they need to understand how to do their jobs. Insist that learning and development be embedded in your corporate culture.
Does your technology enable your workflow? A new system at the MGM actually slowed down the registration process, causing frustration for both the customer and the employees. Make certain that technology is working for you and not against you.
Engage your employees--listen to their suggestions. As a guest service representative, Sandy encourages customers to register for the MGM rewards program. She is excellent at her job because she cares about people and wants each customer to have the ultimate customer experience. Sibella, who struggled in the guest service representative role, learned that Sandy's genuine kindness extended beyond the workplace: she delivers flowers, purchased with her own money, to nursing homes each week. Without engaging Sandy, Sibella wouldn't have understood why she is so good at her job and what truly matters to her. Our employees are our greatest asset. They know what works and what doesn't. Talk to them...often.
During his undercover assignment, Sibella's eyes were opened to opportunities for improvement. He came to realize that he has great employees, despite the daily obstacles they encounter while trying to do their jobs. Just by Sibella doing "Undercover Boss" and thus showing interest in employees, general morale improved. Employees were heard and some of their suggestions were implemented. Sibella still continues the practice, walking the casino floors, stopping in the kitchens, etc., always talking with and listening to employees.
Periodically checking in with the day-to-day business allows you to develop and maintain a culture that is right for your business. But don't just check in--act upon what you find! Engage your employees, your most valuable assets, to help correct any problems. Happy employees = happy customers = customer loyalty.
When are you going undercover?