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Undercover Boss, Hooters And Leading The Right Way.


When you search “Undercover Boss” in YouTube, the second search result is a boss breaking cover to immediately terminate the job of a member of staff, using her power as the CEO to supercede the formal disciplinary procedures, and end this employee’s reign of criticism over the customers at their organisation. But, what many forget about Undercover Boss, are the employees who changed their ways after being steered in the right direction.


CEO of Hooters Coby Brooks, who inherited the business from his late father, felt detached to the original ethos his father had, and was aiming to make sure that in a time of economic crisis, his company would stay afloat. By going undercover and seeing how his ideas translated down the grapevine, Brooks learned about leadership from a general manager, Jimbo.


Shadowing Jimbo, was the third job Brooks did whilst undercover. Brooks was excited to see how leaders in his business were working, explaining that “the GM in the store is, he’s the coach, he’s got all his players underneath him, he’s gotta make sue the entire team works good together. I’m gonna listen to the way he conducts himself and how he talks to his staff and just see exactly you know what kind of coaching job he’s doing.


During his time with Jimbo, Brooks watched him do a uniform inspection, where he checked over whether the girls on his team had their hair styled, makeup on and were looking “like a Hollywood starlet”. He commented on one of his staff members, Rayna, saying “compliment her on her lack of nails, my those are some glamourous nails you have”, although she passed the uniform inspection, he didn’t like that she wasn’t wearing acrylics or nail polish.

Brooks commented that “Jimbo made it very clear that you know we are about the Hooters girl. He was very clear on what the brand is about but I don’t I don’t think he’s really, I don’t think he’s clear on how the brand should be treated.”


Hooters operated in a format that was similar to a zero-hour contract, that once the shop was less busy, some girls would be sent home. Jimbo said that the girls would be cut based on games that he set up, no questions. When one of his employees asked about her needing to leave to go to school, he remarked that she had to “play [his] reindeer games”.


In a private conversation with Brooks, Jimbo was asked whether the girls enjoyed having to do bean eating contests, where they would shove their faces into a plate of beans and have to clean the plate, and these games. Jimbo remarked that there were no rules, elaborating to say that “these girls are spoiled, they’re primadonnas”


When the girls were presented with the beans, they were all against the idea, a chorus of “no”, “please no” and “that’s not okay” echoed from the employees, irking Brooks immensely, “the things I saw today were inappropriate, they were wrong and I don’t want any part of it.”


When he finally met Jimbo again, Brooks informed him that he needed to apologise to his staff, and when Jimbo appeared resistant, stressing that his management drove sales, Brooks was not impressed. He informed him that he is a proud father of three children, two of which are girls, and I’ve always said I’d have no problem with them working in Hooters. But, to be honest with you I would have a tough time letting my girls work under your management.”


It was only when Jimbo was faced by the two young girls on Brooks’ desk that he realised how he needed to change his conduct, and despite his initial reluctance he valued his role within the company and was able to retain his place as assistant general manager.


Simon Sinek once said that you ought to “be the leader you wish you had”, and through his firm and decisive action about Jimbo’s behaviour it was clear he was willing to do that. This was further demonstrated when he met Marcee on his fourth day undercover. Marcee was a mother of two and another general manager, who had been working in Hooters since 1999. She had started as a Hooters girl and worked her way up. She had a great rapport and personal relationship with her employees, offering help to her staff. Marcee said that she related to the girls because she’d “been there done that”, and Brooks immediately noticed that “she respected her girls, and her girls respected her”.


When he met with Marcee once again he informed her that he didn’t want to “lose the good people in [the Hooters] system”, and therefore, offered to pay for her and her family to go on a long all expenses paid holiday, anywhere in the world, so she could “come back a little bit healthier, than you are right now, since you’re stressed.”


At the end of the episode, he announced some of the changes he would be making as the CEO of Hooters; “we are going to work on time management to help single mums and single dads, we’re gonna start a new marketing campaign we want to show the world what a Hooters girl is; a Hooters girl is the doctors now, the lawyers now, the movie stars that have worked for us that have gone on to do great amazing things.”


Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (www.TheAgileWorks.com), is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.


He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.


The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.


To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address: arvind@theagileworks.com

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