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We were quickly captured by the drama of "Undercover Boss" the CBS breakout Emmy-nominated, hit reality show where CEOs go undercover within their companies to see firsthand the inner workings away from the comfort of their corner office at corporate headquarters. I've always been interested but the time slot just doesn't work for us until now. And I am certain why I had to see this episode.
The 2/20/2011 episode, which can be seen in its entirety here, featured Mack Trucks President and CEO Denny Slagle. I really loved the set-up - they made the workers believe that they were on a "reality show" to pick a contract worker to get full-time work at Mack. Brilliant.
Even more brilliant was the fact that many of the folks he worked side-by-side with admitted on camera that they would not pick him. He was so likable as a CEO and seemed to truly want to know what he could do to make it better for his workers. I was particularly struck by his interactions with one employee who was faced with some extenuating circumstances in his personal life specifically his relationship with his grand kids. The emotional moment climaxes with the employee stating that "management" should take the time to know people and their stories because of what some people "carry" with them every day.
"I wish we had ways to help people, like a little sign that says 'Hey, I need help today or I need someone to care for me today,' '"was the suggestion of the clearly shaken grandfather of two.
The cut away shot had CEO Denny Slagle talking about the experience with this employee on camera, "...we don't always recognize that people need help - There is probably.. something we can do to support one another and build on the family atmosphere." He seemed visibly shaken and was truly moved by the story of the relational difficulty that this employee faced.
I was moved, too. Moved to write this open letter to Denny Slagle.
Dear Mr. Slagle,
You are right. There is something companies can do to support their employees with the types of difficulties faced by the brave and courageous grandfather who shared his story with a potential co-worker. You can invest in relational wellness programs.
You may ask what is "relational wellness"? Simply defined, relational wellness is the proactive care of all the relationships in one's life. Relational wellness is as critical for an individual's success as physical, mental or emotional wellness. Relational wellness will be one of the next aspects of the healthcare discussion. Further, relational wellness can be a key to increased profitability because it directly impacts the relationship your company has with it's customer. People don't buy from companies. People buy from other people.
Right now, I am leading the discussion about relational wellness and getting great traction in the non-profit sector, municipal government and start-up businesses but no luck in bigger corporations where I believe we can have the biggest impact on society as a whole.
Won't you be different and consider relational wellness programs as part of Mack Trucks benefit package? Why "wait and see" where this movement goes? Follow the lead of companies like Zappos, Google and Netflix and blaze a trail in the way you care for your associates. My company Relationships Matter Now, LLC. can help.
It will be an investment that pays in dividends - both material and intangible.
Thanks for your time,
Denise W. Barreto
Relationships Matter Now, LLC.