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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Back To The Bottom

One of my favorite channels on HOT! is Channel 8. It's like YES' Docuchannel, but a lot more expansive. They don't just have documentaries, they have science shows, and a lot of interesting programs. It's very educational. One of the series that they have now is called "Hachzara L'Tachtit", basically meaning "The Return to the Bottom". The concept of the show is an experiment. They take a CEO of a major Israeli company, and have them work in a lot of the more "menial" positions in the company. The first one saw the CEO of Israir be a stewardess, a check-in clerk at the Eilat Airport when it was completely full, an airplane cleaner, and a plane mechanic. On the show I'm watching now the CEO of the Isratel Hotel chain working in the Royal Beach hotel in Eilat. He's a bellboy, kitchen worker, waiter, and room cleaner.

Basically, the point of the show is to see how well the top dogs can down and dirty with the clogs that keep their company working. They also get to see how hard and frustrating working at the bottom jobs can really be. They find out things they didn't know before. For example, Israir has a policy that all its employees get free plane tickets on the airline. However, employees like the airplane cleaners make only minimum wage, so it's nice that they have free airplane tickets, but they can't afford hotel stays. In the Israetel chain, the room cleaners also only get paid minimum wage. One of the workers the CEO is talking to works 14 hours every day, but she only makes slightly over 5,000 shekels a month. That's nothing, and cleaning rooms is very hard physical work. So to, with the airplane cleaners.

These CEOs get a chance to talk with the bottom level employees and hear their stories and what they see as problems with the company. In both cases, you hear them make promises for improvement, only to find out at the end that the realities of the company don't allow for a lot of these changes to take place. It's not like a CEO's job is a picnic. The CEO of Israir works from early in the morning, usually until 11:00 at night. It's not a walk in the park, and they earn their high salaries.

I don't think the show is demeaning at all. It's impossible for a CEO to be aware or to run every department. If a CEO tried to micro-manage like this, their company would sink. However, it seems like a really good idea for CEOs to have a check in the lower levels every once in a while, like once or twice a year, to inspect what's going on. They can get a really good look at what's happening and what needs to be fixed. They don't need to fix the problems themselves, but get the managers to see to the problems.

One of the really cool things about the show is you, the viewer, get to see a really good behind the scenes look at how companies run. For example, I never thought that airplanes regularly change the floor carpets. One of the things that the Israir CEO got to see was that they were paying a cleaning service to clean the plane carpets, but that they regularly changed the carpets because the cleaning service wasn't doing a good enough job of cleaning the carpets. So, she asked the most logical question. "Why are we paying a cleaning service to clean the carpet if we have to replace them because they don't do a good job?"

Anyways, I think it's a great experiment, and I think if a company is smart, every CEO will do this.

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At 8:22 AM, Blogger Ezzie said...

A lot of CEO's actually *do* do this, though maybe not on such a level.

What's fascinating to watch sometimes is to see the CEO's et al doing some of the menial work... but doing so at an incredible efficiency. You can see how they moved up so fast, and why they make such great CEO's. They really know their business from bottom to top.

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

That's very true.


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