Undercover at Park Resorts

The first episode of The Undercover Boss was aired last night, showing Andy Edge, the ceo of Park Resorts, going undercover to find out what was happening in his business.  We discussed the ethics of such a strategy last week.  In a similar move to our coverage of The Apprentice we'll be covering each epishaven holidaysode of the show to see if there are any lessons that can be learnt from the show.

The premise of the show is that Mr Edge works undercover at Park Resorts for a 10 day period.  His rationale is that if staff are asked for feedback via official means they don't provide honest appraisal of their role or their opinion of the company.

Quite an insightful element of the show is that despite his high level role of marketing director, he himself has never worked in a holiday park before.  I wonder if he's ever stayed in one either?  Warren Buffet says you should never invest in things you don't understand, is a similar management mantra that you should never manage something you havn't got experience of?

The importance of training

Mr Edge then descended upon the kitchen, where his chef was woefully under trained (read not trained at all) and woefully under staffed to do the job effectively.   This led to poorly prepared meals and in some cases legally unhealthy ones.  At the end of the show it was revealed that Park Resorts were sending the intrepid chef on a cooking course, which had the double benefit of making him more able to do his job but also more motivated to do it well.  Our own research has shown that 87% of staff want to be considered high potential.  People want to be loved and feel they have a future in your company, and sending them on training is a great way of doing this as you're actively investing in them.  One of the cleaning staff remarked on feeling invisible, if you want to remedy this, get them training!

Give people responsibility

The other takeaway story from the show was in the differing performance of the cleaning staff at the two resorts Mr Edge visited.  It was almost a classic X and Y situation for those Douglas McGregor fans out there and this is a crucial area for developing your people and the talent within them.  Our research has shown that individuals who think their organisation considers them to be talented, are significantly more motivated by the direction of their organisation.  At the Isle of Wight resort this was writ large.  The cleaning staff were well trained, well paid and given the responsibility to do their job without being micro managed.

How much do you know about your business?

Perhaps the biggest lesson he took from the show though was revealed towards the end.  He mentioned his day job traditionally means looking solely at numbers and processes, and he had know idea about how things actually work.  As marketing starts and finishes at the customer touch points this is fundamental to the Park Resorts business.

What did you think of the show?  Do you know enough about the practical operations of your business?


Be nice if the government did a similar thing. Then they'd perhaps understand how ripping taxpayers off on their expenses is not the done thing!

Not bad viewing but didn't put Park Resorts in a good light. Not sure they're my cup of tea anyway but having seen the way the food was produced I certainly wouldn't want to eat at any of their restaurants. I suppose he has to be commended with putting him and his company into the firing line though.

It was great to see the innovation shown by the cleaning manager rewarded but I have to say it's a real shame that it took such a drastic measure for the management to have any idea what was going on at their company. Surely it shouldn't be that difficult?

Kudos for him for doing this. I think he came across well as an individual.

I thought it was a good show but was baffled as to why that poor chef was working on his own. I mean what was the catering manager doing at the time? Surely they should have been pitching in if things were quite that bad. It would be nice to know what happened in the kitchen, especially if the chef was now away for 1 day a week. Did he get more help in the end?

Bit daft of the lady to say she hated her job on camera as well. What was she thinking? She must have known that'd come back and bite her on the bum.

Am I being cynical in thinking that this was purely a marketing exercise? If Mr Edge is realy interested in feedback you would think head office would be happy to give out his name and contact details. When I contacted them for these details the person who answered the phone said she could not give out his details and could not even give out her name. Maybe he has had enough publicity, sorry information, and dosnt need any more.

I love the point about delagating responsibility. Once you start handing out jobs - but more importantly - the ability of the individual to have control over how they carry out that task - you'll start to see real commitment.

he ort to have gone to some of the so called touring parks, i have , the last one had no toilets/showers on the touring park. they need a good shake up.