Back to the floor?
The idea of bosses going ‘back to the floor’ has been around in business for a long time. It has spawned both fictional and real-life TV series like Undercover Boss and has been part of the leadership culture in some organisations for many years.
It’s a practice that would serve all leaders well, whatever their business. If we really want to understand the impact our decisions and actions have on others – employees, customers, our wider stakeholder group – putting ourselves at the sharp end from time to time could be eye-opening and behaviour changing.
True we can get feedback via other channels, other people, but it comes through the inevitable filters of those reporting back and, where the data is not so positive, they may be tempted to soften the blow.
Instead we can go and see for ourselves, rather than making assumptions from what we hear. We may find, for example, that our brilliant technology is rather stressful to use because the instructions that are perfectly clear to us or our expert designers are baffling to people who don’t spend their days dreaming of IT.
We may find the process we’ve signed off for staff to follow is cumbersome and inhibits rather than enhances performance or creates blockages where we need flow.
Only by spending time with those impacted, by seeing for ourselves, can we be sure we’ve got it right. More than that though, we will get access to the ideas our people have for making it better and their commitment to doing so.