Undercover Boss – bored now?

You’re boring and repetitive, my wife tells me! So is Channel 4’s latest episode with Narin Ganesh FD of Crown Worldwide getting a bit repetitive too?

This is how it goes: undercover (non) boss Narin is filmed trying out entry-level jobs across the divisions. Surprise, surprise he finds hard working, underpaid, good quality people, loyal to the company, with a few creaky systems, but nothing too serious wrong. Is there a Bob Cratchett story in the final act too? You bet.

Come on Channel 4 mix it up a bit!

But let’s look at three different stakeholders’ viewpoints: investor, PR director  and employees:

Investor’s viewpoint

Narin’s a new FD and probably inherited the standard recession strategy of “squeeze more out of less”.

That means unpaid overtime for the hard working staff. It also means the best staff are thinking of leaving to join Crown’s competitors. Narin finds out that quality is slipping which upsets (and loses) customers reducing sales and profits.

But paying overtime again surely just increases the costs again? As an investor I’m seeing nothing that tells me how this business is being turned round.

PR director’s viewpoint

We’ve now heard of Crown (not the paints people). No such thing as bad publicity and all that.

But where’s the edge? The USP? Nice friendly staff? Sorry but that’s a given.

Employee’s perspective

What about all the people working hard who weren’t featured. Are they going to get paid overtime and promotions too?

Communications look like they’ve been improved but reassurances don’t last. How about a staff share scheme?


To retain viewers, the programme maker will have to refresh the formula.

The businesses featured will also have to demonstrate something dynamically different to inspire the stakeholders too.

About Dr Steve Lewis

Earlier episodes reviewed: Undercover boss – was it rubbish?; who says money motivates – Undercover Jockey Club; why be an undercover boss?More information

About drstevelewis

Good leadership is essential for any project to succeed. I specialise in the most difficult leadership challenges; those involving the way we relate to other people or the way they relate to us. With a background of many years in business and an earlier training in medicine I combine the two in a unique consultancy.
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