Going ‘Back to the Floor’
Over the past few weeks, I’ve started going ‘Back to the Floor’ within my staff teams.
In truth, I’ve been waiting for the ideal opportunity to do this for some years. I’ve now got quite a large team of over 70 staff within several different teams and based in different locations. This seemed the ideal opportunity and to be honest, from the moment I was offered my new post, I knew it was something I wanted to do early on in my new role, within a new organisation.
Of course, going ‘back to the floor’ is nothing new.
I remember watching the ‘back to the floor’ TV series back in early 2000 and being fascinated by it. I couldn’t believe that a boss could be so far removed from what the front line staff did in a typical day. Of course, the higher up the ladder I’ve got, the more I’ve realised how easy it is to become removed from the front line!
What I’ve found when going ‘back to the floor’ is that staff are looking forward to meeting me and are more than happy to engage with me on a wide range of issues. I make it clear beforehand that I want the day I experience to be ‘as normal as possible’. This means that I also get some quality time speaking to some of my staff and I’ve already picked up a lot.
I’ve found some hidden talent – individuals who I probably wouldn’t have met properly otherwise, but after having met them going ‘back to the floor’, I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for them. I’ve been able to quiz staff about some of the ideas I’ve got or some of the issues as I see them and their honesty (and challenge!) in particular about what they feel will and won’t work is very refreshing. More than anything though I’d say going ‘back to the floor’ has enabled me to get to know in much more detail what front line staff do day-to-day, the issues they face and what things I can tackle or address to make their roles easier.
Of course there are a few acid tests in the process:
– Whether the staff are happy with me going ‘back to the floor’ – from what I’ve been told, they do seem to appreciate it;
– Whether I am actually able to use the experiences and information I’ve gained to make a positive difference – I guess only time will tell whether I’m able to deliver on this but I’m looking to make this a reality;
– Whether I’ll keep on going ‘back to the floor’ – I’ve already booked in more ‘back to the floor’ sessions over the coming months and I hope to make this into an annual thing.
A further bonus to come out of the process to date is that I also seem to have convinced some of my other colleagues to do a similar ‘back to the floor’ exercise, which they have now firmly booked in their diaries as well.
I’m also an avid watcher of ‘Undercover Boss’ and ‘Secret Millionaire’, although I couldn’t get away with going undercover in my current organisation (it’s just not big enough!) and as I’m not a millionaire (in any shape or form!) that’s a no go as well.
Still, never say never………….