If A Boss Has To Go Undercover, They Aren’t Much Of A Boss At All

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Feb 25, 2016
This article is part of a series called Classic TLNT.

Editor’s Note: As I wind down my stint as Editor of TLNT — yes, I’m leaving next month— I wanted to share a few of my favorite TLNT posts. Here’s one from March 2011.

Here’s the only big surprise about the big flap erupting this week over the television “reality” show Undercover Boss: that it took so long for a flap to ensue and expose this show for what it is – a management and workplace fairy tale.

Here’s the gist of what happened, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog:

The CBS show “Undercover Boss” is supposed to be feel-good television. The rich boss finds out that it’s hard work to load a truck or handle customer calls. And then he (it’s almost always a he) bestows gifts of raises and promotions and training to the hand-picked models of fabulousness who helped guide his way.

But on Sunday, the “boss” featured on the show was not actually the boss and had no power to offer promotions, raises or training, said United Van Lines officials. It became an issue after complaints arose that promotions and training were apparently given to the men on the show, but not to the woman who complained about the company being “an all-boys club.” She received a trip to Las Vegas and money for her daughter’s wedding.”

The problem with Undercover Boss is that, A) it’s “reality” television; and B) it presents top executives as clueless dolts who don’t seem to have the vaguest notion of how their businesses operate or what people working for them actually do.

This article is part of a series called Classic TLNT.