Uncovering the Heart of FedEx
By Lisa Lisson, president, FedEx Express Canada
When I was first approached to be part of the first Undercover Boss Canada television show, I had a few reservations. I was primarily concerned about how employees would react. I’ve been with FedEx Canada for 20 years and have spent a lot of time in the field so I really had to weigh what employees would think of me going undercover.
I spoke with other CEOs who had done the program and they all said it was the best experience of their lives. In the end, it turned out to be the same for me. It gave me an opportunity to get to know the person behind the uniform in a unique way.
I’m not a huge TV watcher, but I researched this show extensively because I wanted to make sure it was the real deal and I can tell you, it is! But it was also completely unscripted and the itinerary was kept secret from me until the last possible moment. I had no idea where I was going each day, what role I’d be doing or who I would meet.
I was disguised as Suzanne Thole, a woman found on craigslist.ca for a documentary about returning to the workforce in an unfamiliar job. I had to learn and master tasks that can often take weeks or months to perfect. No small challenge.
Aside from the physical demands of these jobs, I had to quickly learn the PowerPad, which I’d never used before. Our couriers work the PowerPad like it’s second nature. I wasn’t quite as adept! I have a whole new admiration for the work our employees do.
Going undercover was a life-changing experience for me on so many levels but, more importantly, it reinforced my strong belief in the importance of being a leader who knows the frontline. Unless you walk in someone else’s shoes and experience what they do, you never actually know. I encourage every FedEx manager – in fact, any manager of any company – to get out on the front line and burn the shoe leather. Go and spend a day doing what your employees do and experience what they experience day in and day out. And do it often.
I always say that it’s my front line teams who create my “to-do” list. So many innovative and creative ideas come from this team and it’s because they’re out there, every single day, talking to customers, seeing first-hand what’s working and what isn’t. They see clearly where changes can be made to improve service and the overall customer experience and it was great to be in their shoes for a few days.
I take a lot of memories from my Undercover Boss Canada experience. I’ve made life-long friends in Diana Takacs, Rob Dale, Kathy Beckstead and Mark Armstrong. The passion they have for their jobs is inspiring.
You know – if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. And you’ll see on the show that Diana, Rob, Kathy and Mark love what they do.
And so do I.
Tune in to Undercover Boss Abroad on Thursday, May 24th at 8:00 pm ET on TLC to watch Lisa Lisson in action.