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Monday, March 15, 2010

Undercover Boss

In other news, the US is embarrassed by Israel yet again...

Until I get back into news mode...

Another TV show: Undercover Boss

Admittedly, none of these really made me feel better about big corporations and the disconnect between the corporate world and the workers. I think some of the bosses do mean well and I have enjoyed most of them, especially the 7-11 one. An effort is generally made to reward and offer opportunities to those employees the boss works with while undercover. I found this to be nice for those involved, but what about the thousands of people like them who didn’t happen make it on the show? Where’s their vacation and special opportunity for advancement? It could be a special treat for those who inadvertently helped with the show. If you look at the rewards as sort of consolation to those who find out they were being filmed (for this purpose) without their knowledge, it might be ok.

Watching the Undercover Boss about Hooters definitely made me feel worse about that place. I guess I had hoped that it really was all about the wings. So I’m still pretty naive. Apparently it really is about parading women about in ill-fitting “uniforms.”

The segment with the ex-military guy was good. The guy kept things in order and had high standards. They got some funny clips to show at the end, which was probably nice for them. Brooks made a donation to Operation Homefront, which was a nice gesture, but what does that do to encourage people to be more like this guy? A) would that motivate people and B) would they really donate a large sum to your (everyone’s) charity of choice for a job well done? I think in addition to that, they should have promoted the guy and found a way to bring his qualities to other stores- maybe with that guy helping/training in some way.

In the segment featuring Jimbo and his deplorable behavior, Brooks actually said he knows what the brand is about, but doesn’t know how to treat it or some nonsense like that. At least we know that it’s not the wings, it’s the girls- in case there was any doubt. Classy. He would let his daughters work at Hooters, but probably not on Jimbo’s watch. Nice. So, I guess it was only fitting that upon receiving a mild reprimand, Jimbo defends his behavior and stands by his actions since his sale are good. Totally ridiculous, but fitting to show the guy has no respect for anyone, not even the boss.

Jimbo and his reindeer games are certainly to blame, but Hooters lends itself to this sort of behavior, really. The brand is about girls in tight, barely there shirts and shorts, but you’re not supposed to demean them. For many, it’s hard to walk that close to the line and not cross it. I’m not saying men aren’t to be held responsible when they do. And the other side of that coin is the girls choosing to work there. Hooters certainly isn’t the only guilty party, but if Brooks ever thought that place was family friendly or free of sexual exploitation and harassment, he’s delusional. If Brooks wants to change that aspect and appear as though he’s honestly concerned about the girls and his restaurant being family friendly, he would have to change those uniforms and probably the name, too. I guess you could move to an owl theme or dare I say breast cancer, I don’t know… Probably not the latter.

Wearing a T-shirt saying "Delightfully tacky, yet tastefully unrefined,” Brooks is dumbfounded when women tell him his brand is demeaning to women. ??? Where has this guy been??? Maybe no one will say it to his face, but surely he has overheard something at some point? And, dude- Did he read his shirt before squeezing into it? Is that what the brand is about? Is he proud to wear that shirt and have it refer to his company??? And what about that conference room sign, “Caution Bumps”? He’s shocked that people think Hooters demeans women and isn’t a family friendly establishment? Really?

I was encouraged by his response that he wanted to change things. It was a huge letdown, though, when his big solution to change things was not to change the name and give them some real clothes to wear- even a tasteful cheerleading outfit – but to embark in a propaganda campaign starring the two girls who took him out on the street for the promo detailing all the ways that Hooters gives back to the community or some nonsense. He really missed the boat on that one. He could have employed them and others in an effort to reinvent the uniform and other aspects of the job to something that is more respectful to them.

The segment with the woman manager should tell him he should look for more women managers to manage the generally disrespected girls and reorganize things to make it easier for people to go to school, be single parents, etc. Instead, he sent her on a vacation, which was a nice gesture, but what about the other single moms? She apparently took a less stressful job in the company, but who’s going to fill her position? Potentially another Jimbo? Yikes! What did he do to prevent that from happening again? Nothing that I could tell. Was she offered an equal or lesser paying less stressful position? I had assumed she was promoted, but I don’t know that I should, here.

When he visited his plant where the sauce is made, no one knows who he is, but they all love his father. Morale has gone down since his death and Brooks decides to show up more often like his father did. Somehow, I don’t think he’ll be able to have the same relationship with the employees. He doesn’t appear to care as much as people say his father did. Building a company is a bit different than having one dropped in your lap and it shows.

I don’t think his experience affected him the way it has other bosses and I think a lot of crucial points made were lost on him. His own ignorance of the perception of the brand was absolutely astounding. Maybe he’s been too long in his corporate bubble (As evidenced by the morale at the plant…), but it was unbelievable to me.

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