I am sure we all have seen or heard about this new television show. The boss of a company dons a disguise so its employees won’t recognize him and he gets hired to work on the front lines of his company. The point is to see what working conditions the people in his company work under and possibly hear how they feel about the company and its leadership.

It’s a little too cliché for my taste, but I am far from a TV critic. Still, it did make me think, what if the boss of your company came into your call center and you did not know it was him?

Would he be proud of what he sees? Would he see a motivated work force? Would he see agent training being done? Would the center be presentable? Would he find you on the floor or behind a desk?

If you have any concerns, then you need to step back and review how your call center has drifted from its original vision. Where I would look first would be the most basic step taught in any good management-training program.

Leadership has to set the correct example.

As a leader of others, you have to remember that every employee under you looks to you as an example. If you are holding up the standards of the company, doing your job correctly, working as hard as you expect others to work, and treating people courteously, that will trickle down. If, on the other hand, you manage by the “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality, then I am sure this is a root cause of what the Undercover Boss has discovered.

A good way to always set the example is to work as if your boss is right behind you. You should never have the thought, “Oh, I am glad my boss didn’t see me do that” or speak to anyone in a way that you would not if your boss was there.

It sounds simplistic, because it is. Too many times people have different ways of working when they think the boss is watching or on site for the day. The thing most people don’t understand is that if your boss is perceptive in any way, he can see you are uncomfortable doing things in this manner. The looks on the faces of your co-workers will give you away. They will have that disgusted look when they see you act this way because you are trying to cover up your poor work habits with a dog and pony show.

I would question the Undercover Boss as well.  How did you not see what was going on? Did you not have a communication structure of people you trusted on the ground reporting back? Do you have a schedule to get out into the field to see for yourself? Do you set the correct example?

If I was a boss and I found this to be one of my centers, I would blame myself as much as any other employee.

Bosses need to get out of the office and get to the front lines to see and hear from their employees. It helps to connect you to these employees and to see how your decisions really impact the company. It is easy to think something works from your office, but it may not work in reality. You must also have a structure for open communication, where your decisions can be reviewed and feedback is expected versus a culture where everyone is afraid of disagreeing or giving you bad news.

The more you stay behind the desk, the more you manage numbers, not people. Then you are going to be surprised when you go out into the field and see what really is happening – the condition of the workplace, the morale of the workers, and the overall the attitude of those who are meeting your customers each and every day.

Make sure, though, that any visit has enough time to see what is going on, not a presidential stopover, where you shake some hands, say a few nice words about “how lucky the company is to have you,” and then jump in your car and head off back to the safety of your office.  That does more harm than good because people know when visits are sincere versus staged.

So, the next time you hire someone, you may never know, it could be your boss or someone they know, checking up to make sure what corporate wants to happen is, in actuality, what is happening. And for all of those bosses who may be afraid to look, if you want your call centers to gain market share, get up, get out, and see what is going on – and set the correct example.

Let me know your thoughts

Glenn Pasch is the President of Improved Performance Solutions, found at http://improvedperformancesolutions.com. Improved Performance Solutions is a consulting firm that specializes in helping organizations improve their customer interaction. They provide the proper training to convert conversations into sales and positive customer service experiences.