I’ve recently been watching the TV series “Undercover Boss” (the UK version) and the recurring theme was that the MD, posing as a raw trainee for a TV documentary, kept coming across failures in the workplace which astounded him (or her).
Their concern was genuine, and remedies were eventually put in place, but the question that kept bugging me throughout the series was “what happened to their middle and senior management teams? What had they been doing to justify their existence?”
Examples that spring to mind include a restaurant that had been without a manager, and therefore its staff had been without direction, for five months; a shop that had only one employee and thus had to close every time the employee had to go to the loo; a pharmacy that had devoted a large amount of floor space to selling miscellaneous bits of china and plastic dolls instead of pharmaceutical products; and so the list goes on.
How had these situations been allowed to occur? For example: why didn’t an area manager realise that leaving a restaurant without a manager could only lead to a failure in standards, and so do something about it? Or had the organisation been trying to work without area managers, relying on each restaurant liaising directly with Head Office if they thought/ wanted to admit they had a problem?
These issues were never explored in the programmes, but I wonder how many directors and senior managers are currently sitting in their offices, beavering away furiously in the fond (yet sadly mistaken) belief that their organisation is functioning efficiently, a conclusion based on the fact that nobody has told them otherwise?
These directors and senior managers are effectively working on a system of negative reporting – “if I don’t hear any bad news then it must all be good news” – which is an unreliable, and thus dangerous, way to operate.
Unfortunately the argument “but nobody told me there was a problem!” carries little weight in law, especially if somebody has been injured in a preventable works accident. If it can be shown that a company breached health & safety legislation because of the negligence of a director or senior manager (e.g. they failed to manage properly) then that person can face a personal criminal prosecution, and severe penalties if convicted.
It’s not realistic to expect the MD or one of his senior staff to go undercover to see what’s really happening, and, conversely, if he makes an open visit then everybody will be on their best behaviour.
So – what’s to be done? Well, cue the advert :0)
The advert bit
Happily, Management & Safety Training can help directors and senior managers overcome this dilemma! We can work with the senior team in carrying out independent workplace health & safety audits and then submitting a detailed, unbiased report of our findings.
Audits would be unannounced (so we see things as they really are) and neutral. Since we’re not employees of the client we don’t have any interest in internal politics, we have no axes to grind, and we will simply give a professional opinion on the compliance (or otherwise) of the company’s health & safety management systems.
Yes, we might find a few skeletons in the cupboard – but surely it’s better that we find them rather than the enforcement officers?
To arrange an informal, and confidential, discussion about audits please don’t hesitate to get in touch using the Contact Us page.