You may be familiar with the CBS reality series Undercover Boss – after all, it is a two-time Emmy winner for Outstanding Reality Program. In the show, a disguised CEO acts as an entry-level employee to experience first-hand how it feels to work for his or her business. Some Nashville favorites have been featured on the show, including Gigi’s Cupcakes and country music star Darius Rucker

Company leaders don’t need to go as far as adopting a disguise to get down to the roots of their business. In fact, it’s essential for the success of both the business and its employees to have a CEO who knows the ins and outs of everyone’s role within the company.

Advance Financial has become one of the fastest-growing companies in Nashville. One of the many factors behind our incredible growth is the commitment of our leadership to know all of our employees’ roles and constantly find ways to improve the work experience. 


Walk in your teams’ shoes

When Advance Financial was first getting off the ground more than 20 years ago, my husband Mike and I started like everyone else here, working the front counter, taking out the trash, and everything in between. Being present and accessible to our team not only builds trust but also helped us understand as business owners how the decisions we make for the company affect the people working for us. 

Even though our company has grown to more than 85 locations, we still continue visiting the stores and interacting with our employees. Business owners can learn extremely valuable details about their company by seeing the inner workings through the eyes of those who keep it moving each day. Are the company policies being implemented as they should be? Are they the right policies to benefit your team and your company? What are the working conditions like? 


Listen to what they have to say

One benefit of disguising the CEOs in Undercover Boss is they are able to get candid feedback from their employees about the company. Not knowing they are talking to their bosses, the employees are more direct about what it’s like to work there. The good news is that creating an open and honest company culture can yield the same results without the makeup and costume.

Since the beginning, we have encouraged open communication among all employees at our company. Our team knows from day one that we want to hear every concern or question they have, no matter what. Besides talking to our employees during store visits, we also conduct employee surveys to provide another opportunity for them to be heard. We also have an anonymous suggestion system for all our employees. 

Ask your team what it’s like to work for the company. What do your employees like about their jobs and what would help them do their jobs better? What changes do they want to see made within the company? Ask, listen to their feedback, and act. When your people know they are heard, they will develop a deeper connection to their jobs and your business.


Never stop improving

Just like we are always thinking of new ways to improve our business and its services, as leaders we must also be constantly developing ways to improve the experience of our employees. We must not get lazy and think everything is fine just because we’re still in business. There is always an area within the company that can use attention to make it even better. Keep talking to your people, keep listening to their feedback and keep evolving. 

The simple acts of being present with your employees, listening to their experiences and taking action can make all the difference in the health and success of your company.