Work Lessons From Undercover Boss

Undercover Boss is a TV series that is slowly growing on me. The premise of the show is simple; a CEO of a company adopts a false persona and walks into one of his/her chain enterprise pretending to be an employee enrolled in a contest. The CEO interacts with his/her employee in different situations with the main goal of evaluating efficiency, consistent business practices, training models and their effectiveness, infrastructure and tools of the trade (computer systems, cashier registers, etc.), among other things.

It is really interesting to see the relational dynamics that emerge as the boss is put through the ringer by his/her own employees (who of course don't know who s/he is). What I find most compelling about the show are the issues that arise pertaining to how one engages their daily work assignments. The CEO is often confronted with unprofessional employees with bad attitudes and little to no work ethic. But in that same establishment, there are those who really care about the services they provide, customer satisfaction, and the general welfare of the company.

At the end of the show, the CEO's reveal their true identity to the employees and reward those who have demonstrated a commitment to their jobs with financial benefits as well as career development opportunities. On the flip side, those employees who showed a lack of interest in their duties or the company as a whole are either fired, or given a second chance, depending on how bad their attitude was.

A few lessons we can learn from Undercover Boss include the following:


This is a requirement of every job regardless of the industry. Understand that the workspace is a public space, and customers require a superior level of engagement. It does not matter how bad a day it's been or the personal issues an employee is grappling with; part of being a professional means that one is able to maintain a high level of civility in sometimes difficult situations and provide the best service possible. If the circumstances of one’s personal life prove to be overwhelming, it is okay to take a vacation day to relax and regroup.

Attitude to work

I dislike clichés, but I will make an exception here and say that a person's attitude truly determines their altitude. An employee with a bad attitude will have a harder time climbing up the ladder than someone who doesn't. One of the things I’ve noticed from the show (Undercover Boss) is this; the people with the most heart wrenching stories and circumstances had the best attitude during the work day. This goes back to being professional. They did not let their personal troubles affect the quality of work they put out. They were cheery, pleasant and dedicated to the job.

These employees often got the big rewards at the end of the show because the CEO's were amazed by their ability to maintain a good and upbeat attitude in spite of their problems. We cannot always change the things that life throws at us, but we can control the way we respond. Attitude is everything. Choose to have the right attitude to work, love and other aspects of life. It will go a long way in making a terrible situation much better.


It is no secret that a large number of the world's populations are underemployed or working a job they hate. People are also trying to make ends meet, and this sometimes involve working more than one job. This probably wasn't always the case for most who before the economic downturn had a good job with great benefits. Resilience is the ability to remain strong during a tough season. It is interesting to see how some of the employees on the show have dealt/are dealing with adversity while maintaining a healthy attitude towards life.

It is inspirational to see people who never give up regardless of how bad things seem to be. This is a lesson we can all take to heart when things go bad and the stormy season in our lives seems to last longer than we are willing to bear. Never give up hope, remain strong and keep doing good. You never know when or how a breakthrough will happen. But know that it will come eventually. Nothing lasts forever, and that includes challenging situations. Be resilient!

I could go on, but these ideas really stand out for me with every episode of UnderCover Boss that I watch. It is a good show with both entertainment value and lessons in professionalism and best workplace practices. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.