Learning to listen to employees the hard way
I just watched Undercover Boss for the first time, and I am officially hooked! CEO Bernt Bodal of American Seafoods went undercover as a deckhand and factory foreman, among other jobs, and truly recognized the value of his employees in this week’s show.
For those of you not familiar with the series, Undercover Boss is a reality TV show that airs on CBS on Friday nights at 8 p.m. This week featured CEO Bernt Bodal of American Seafoods who has 39 years of experience in the industry, including beginning his career with 13 years as a deckhand. Originally from Norway, undercover CEO Bodal posed as an immigrant in search of the American dream. He tried his hand at four different jobs in the company and was generally terrible in all four positions!
While this is the sort of thing you might expect from this type of show, what was unexpected was the amount of time Bodal spent speaking with employees at the end of each shift. He took the time to get to know his coworkers personally and asked them what challenges they faced on the job. The reoccurring theme was feeling cut off from family and friends, an unfortunate byproduct of working out at sea for months on end. Bodal pledged to get internet on each and every vessel to help employees stay connected with their loved ones, despite the several thousand dollar per year cost.
When Bodal introduced himself to the staff on the boat and made the announcement, the crowd immediately broke out in applause. It was clear that Bodal was equally happy to bring about such a well-deserved change, and it never would have happened had he not listened to his employees in the first place.
At Great Place to Work we help leaders and managers listen to employees!
Do you feel listened to? As a manager, are you an active listener? What tips do you have that can help us all become better listeners?