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Undercover boss!

  • Published
  • By Col. Mike Hornitschek
  • 375 Air Mobility Wing commander
If you've ever seen the show "Undercover Boss" then you've seen a very interesting social experiment as CEOs of various companies go undercover to work and get their hands dirty on the frontlines of their industry.

Most of these undercover bosses want to find out how well their company is operating or what's preventing it from being more successful, so they set out to explore the various aspects from production to logistics to marketing to delivery. What they usually find is eye opening!

It's fun for the viewer to see what the undercover boss will find--and what they learn from their experiences. Some see where communication, training or career advancement opportunities aren't filtering down to employees. Some meet people who are working to compensate for broken equipment or processes and find out these same employees have the solution, but no voice to share their ideas. Some find amazing workers who, despite life's various challenges, are dedicated and happy to be employed.

People enjoy the show because it's a great reminder that we all need to treat our customers and co-workers with dignity and respect, because you never know who you're "really" serving.
We all know what to do when DVs show up on our doorsteps, but do we give the same courtesy and treatment to other not so well known customers? Can you imagine a person's embarrassment if they had treated their undercover boss wrongly or misused company resources or were careless in the performance of their duties?

As employees--and we are ALL employees--we all should develop and display loyalty to our organization. That loyalty is displayed as we give a full day's worth of work for a full day's wage. For many of us, that is not hard to do, and for military members, we know this is a 24-hour, 365-day calling that knows no time clock.

As employees are we flexible and do we do our best at whatever assignment we are given? Are we willing to take on new responsibilities? Do we take the initiative to look around and see what needs to be done? Do we do our work cheerfully and try to do it the best we can?

In a recent episode, one employee with a pizza chain prided himself on how fast he could slice and box the pizza. That happened to be the busiest and most successful store in Australia. At another store, a man of Indian descent called himself a "delivery expert." Here was a man who gave up his job as a mechanical engineer, moved to Australia so his children could get the education they desired, and worked 60 hours a week delivering pizza! No job was too menial for him because of the greater good created by his effort. How many of us view our tasks this way?

As employees, do we go out of our way to help others? Do other people enjoy working with us? Are we eager to work? I also like the question: If I were an employer, would I hire someone like me? These are great questions to ask ourselves. I know that we are putting these attributes into practice each day, because I hear about the great things you do not only here at Scott, but in your deployed environments as well.

Even if we don't have an undercover boss that shows up to see how the work is progressing, we interact with people every day who evaluate us. Yes, there will be challenging requirements, but ultimately we're all working to accomplish a mission and our wing's purpose is to ensure everyone else is successful at what they need to do!

That's a heavy load and an important calling, and I see it handled with professionalism and expertise by the fine men and women of the 375th!

The favorite part of the show comes at the end, when the boss reveals who he is. I am amazed at the reactions from the employees. Shocked and surprised are understatements! A fun twist is that these employees are usually rewarded with a meaningful gift as a reward for their integrity and loyalty. I imagine they are relieved and it's obvious they're even more loyal as their hard work is recognized and rewarded.

I'd love to have the ability to do the same kind of undercover surprises for our team members here. While that's just not possible here in our small Scott base community, I know our commanders and supervisors at all levels work just as hard to reward and recognize employees in return. We have robust programs that allow for that and no shortage of amazing men and women to recognize.

Every CEO who participates in the show talks about the great people who work for them. Likewise, at the end of every day, I'm grateful for the caliber of people I have the privilege of interacting with here at Scott AFB. I thank you for your loyalty, dedication and service!

Keep doing the great things you do ... because you never know who you're serving!