How well do you know your employees?

x1 boss

In the reality TV show Undercover Boss, a company CEO, badly disguised as a new employee, works incognito alongside their experienced staff.


It’s not long before mishaps, bust-ups, meltdowns and way-too-personal revelations occur.


It all ends in the ‘big reveal’ when the CEO removes their false nose and glasses and rewards or punishes heroes and villains as they see fit.


It’s meant to be good fun and life-affirming, but it’s a little creepy.


Sure, an executive or senior manager needs to know employees’ individual needs, and feedback from the workforce is always constructive – but only if it’s appropriately sought and received.


Step away from those outsized dentures and ill-fitting wig! Instead, get to know your employees by rolling up your sleeves, walking in their shoes and asking them direct questions: this way they’ll feel more valued, better understood and less creeped out.


If you want to know how to meet employees’ workplace needs and career aspirations, ask the right questions in the right way with help from


How happy are you?

This is a simple and straightforward question, yet it provides invaluable information at the most fundamental level – information that when acted upon will help retain your best employees.


Don’t wait for the annual review to ask this. Depending on the size of your staff, have a monthly or quarterly appointment put in place that gives you time, space and privacy to ask individuals whether they’re happy and what you can do to make them happier. 


Keep these direct lines of communication open so you can offer continual support and address concerns before they become problems.


What drives you?

It doesn’t matter whether your business is based on sales or marketing, retail or roofing, hospitality or healthcare, employees love being the best – and you need to know what inspires this.


One of the best ways to find out what kickstarts motors, even on Monday mornings, is to draw out motivation using incentives. Use helpful tools, where possible, such as weekly targets with prizes, bonus payment schemes and ‘employee of the month’ awards.


What are your goals?

Beyond their daily tasks and monthly missions, your more forward-thinking employees will have personal targets to hit or professional standards to reach for.


Knowing what these are means you can offer encouragement and assistance.


Begin by asking everyone from your HR director to the new intern what their objectives are and how you can best facilitate their journey towards meeting these.


Do you require upskilling?

It may be someone is struggling with their current workload or maybe they’d like to challenge themselves by learning new skills. The only way to find out and take immediate and effective action is to ask the question.


Skills-based courses, mentoring and off-site training programmes all provide knowledge and talents.


Helping your employees helps you help your business.


Do you get enough recognition?

Some employees love the spotlight, others hate being the centre of attention but most welcome affirmation they’re doing well.


Recognition of a job well done comes in many forms, from the financial bonus to a simple thanks.


If you believe one of your staff needs extra acknowledgement, use every opportunity to let them know they’ve done well.


There’s no need to go undercover to secure the best executive and management jobs. Just head to for all the latest top-tier vacancies.

Posted on February 25, 2020