Communication is a two-way street
Undercover Boss last week featured CEO Sam Taylor of Oriental Trading Company. The company is the largest producer of party supplies, toys and novelties and has over 2,000 employees. The company's mission is to make it easy and affordable for everyone to celebrate, have fun and express creativity.Unfortunately, the employees of Oriental Trading Company weren't invited to the party. While it is clear from the outset that the CEO genuinely cares about his employees and speaks with them frequently, it wasn't until the CEO dyed his hair black and worked with alongside his employees that he learned he wasn't actually listening to them.
The first clue was the temperature; the conditions at the company's factories were way too hot in an already humid environment. When the disguised CEO asked for something to drink, he was told beverages were only available at certain times due to budget cuts. One woman explained how dehydration affected her productivity and that she had once passed out from heat exhaustion! The CEO pledged to install fans in the factories and provide more sports drinks for his employees, effective immediately.
The really remarkable part of the episode, though, came from a young woman who had been working with the company for three years. She mentioned to the CEO that her suggestions never seemed to be passed on to upper management. The CEO asked for an example and received a potentially very profitable idea in return. The factory worker suggested broadening party favors to include Quinceanera supplies; a celebration for Latina girls turning 15. The CEO agreed the idea was a good one, offered the woman a new role at the company overseeing Quinceanera supplies and accessed an otherwise huge untapped market.
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Tiffany Barber is the Associate Manager of Marketing and Communications and guest blogger for Great Place to Work®.