Why I don’t enjoy Undercover Boss

I really enjoy business reality TV shows, in fact you say the names Gerry Robinson or the phrase “turn around this failing business” and I’m glued to the screen.  But I truly loathe Undercover Boss (even more than I loathe Undercover Millionaire).

Dividing the workforce into lords and serfs... the Undercover Boss format

How can this be? It has all

Dividing the workforce into lords and serfs... the Undercover Boss format

my favourite ingredients, but even in the name of entertainment I think it smells very off.  This was typified when the “undercover boss” of npower, a very nice seeming chap, told a talented customer service call operator who had not successfully pushed for a managerial role that he was sending her to Antarctica for a leadership course.  Was her face frozen in a smile of joy or a grimace of horror – hard to tell. I would have been thinking “that’s the type of favour I could do without mate”…er, boss!

I dislike this program so much because it assumes that the bosses are omniscient and omnipotent masters prepared to give of their generosity to randomly selected serfs in the company when “in the giving vein”.  Bosses are not kings chosen by Divine Right and having the bosses favour shine on a member of a workforce due to a reality program should not cause that member to be given a role as the face of the company or have their medical bills paid, while every other member of staff’s life goes unchanged.

The premise of the show is that bosses uncover the problems stopping their company performing to its best in a certain area, by going undercover into parts of the business.  The reality is that it is more of a slave market set up: the colonial master discovers the backstories of a number of slaves in the market, tells his wife who weeps at the sadness of some of them,then the slaves that impress him the most and pass his wife’s “tear test” are brought into his household for his protection, for which they must be forever grateful.

If the show stuck to the business learnings and spent time on the changes implemented by the management after the undercover experience (instead of a token 3 second boardroom scene), instead of focussing on individuals in the workforce and their human dramas then I would become an avid watcher again.

Which terrible Summer TV leads me onto my next post “Bad Summer of entertainment leads to riots”….


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