Undercover Boss Analysis of Sheldon Yellen: CEO of BELFOR
Name: Sheldon Yellen
Title: CEO of BELFOR
Headquarters: Birmingham, MI
Product or Service: disaster recovery and property restoration
In this week’s episode of “Undercover Boss”, Sheldon Yellon, CEO of BELFOR, attempts various carpentry and restoration work such as tearing down drywall, and cleaning up after disasters, while undercover as “Tom Kelly”.
Position 1: Restoration Technician
Overview: Joe shows “Tom” how to pack up a room in preparation of repairing water damaged walls.
Result: Joe is an efficient and knowledgeable worker. Sheldon, being the new guy, is assigned dead animal duty, and must discard the dead rodent carcass that had been in the wall for years. Sheldon complains of difficulty seeing through his glasses, as they continually fogged up while working.
Joe informs Sheldon that he used to run own business, but after running into some major financial difficulties, now works not only for BELFOR, but hustles various jobs on the side.
How he made amends: Joe is promoted to project manager, and is given a $10,000 advance on his commissions. He is given an additional $10,000 to help with his financial difficulties.
What he should have done: Sheldon also makes it clear to his executive board that employees should be offered more opportunities for overtime pay and commissioned earnings, however it is unclear whether anything actually comes of this. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt this time.
On a smaller note, he did complain about his foggy glasses several times. Perhaps an investment in a high quality safety goggle is in order? Foggy glasses may cloud vision, but you can still see a lawsuit coming a mile away.
Position 2: Carpenter
Overview: “Tom” attempts to hang drywall working alongside Drew.
Result: Sheldon is not comfortable using power tools, and its clear that Drew and Sheldon do not mesh well. Sheldon asks Drew to perform several tasks that Sheldon could not complete.
Drew reveals that he went to school for his MBA and hopes to one day work in a corporate marketing position. His education has left him in serious debt.
How he made amends: Drew is given an opportunity to work with the marketing department, to see if he has what it takes to work in marketing for corporate. He is also given $15,000 to put a dent in his student loans.
What he should have done: Oddly, the main issue present in this segment had more to do with Sheldon’s reaction to his own failure than the actual position. A CEO should remain cool and confident in the most trying of circumstances. Sheldon complained and gave up. These are not ideal personality traits for the leader of corporation.
Position 3: Restoration Technician
Overview: Brenda teaches “Tom” how to clean up after light fire damage.
Result: Sheldon is surprisingly successful at cleaning the soot leftover from the fire. However, he’s surprisingly unsuccessful at making small talk with client, and makes the mistake of suggesting that he was unable to tell the difference in age between a elderly mother and daughter. Party foul.
Brenda informs Sheldon that she was robbed of her education, and her lack of reading and writing skills hurt her ability to test for water tech certification.
How he made amends: Brenda is awarded $10,000 to put towards the education of her grandchildren. Sheldon promises to put her in contact with the head of the training and development department, and will ensure that she is able to train and test for her water tech certification. In addition, Sheldon gives Brenda another $15,000, to use as she sees fit.
What he should have done: While Sheldon was more than generous to Brenda, he should have considered a scholarship or education program that would benefit the entire workforce. Right idea, wrong target.
Position 4: Water Technician
Overview: “Tom” tests his water technician skills, mentored by Jen. They investigate a house with moderate water damage.
Result: The job requires the pair to look beneath the home using cramped, dark, and dirty crawlspace. Sheldon can’t believe Jen is willing to do this on a day to day basis.
Sheldon learns that even though Jen’s recent promotion to water tech was supposed to come with a raise, the salary freeze he put in place has prevented her from receiving it. She is very blunt with him, and believes that few, if any, corporate big wigs would notice her “even if they ran her over.” – This statement causes Sheldon to breakdown emotionally, and reveals his true identity right there on the spot.
How he made amends: Sheldon vows to hold 6 town hall meetings a year, in an effort to get to know and understand his work force. Jen is promised to be back paid for the previous year, for the raise she was supposed to have earned. She is awarded an additional $15,000 for her dedication and loyalty.
What he should have done: Once again, Sheldon is more than generous to Jen, but neglects the rest of the workforce. The salary freeze did not only affect her, but rather the entire workforce.
Sheldon does ask his executive team to investigate a way to lift the salary freeze, but they do not return a definitive answer.
Hey Sheldon, I’ve got an idea – Instead of imposing a salary freeze on the people barely making enough to keep the lights on, perhaps try simply forgoing some of your personal luxuries like, oh, I don’t know…your personal jet? If you ask your employees to make a personal sacrifice, you should do the same as well.
Sheldon was able to hammer out several of the issues presented, but missed the mark with just as many. He seemed more than a bit out of touch with the front line positions at BELFOR, and I could probably count the times he used power tools on one hand.
That being said, it’s very apparent that Sheldon means well, and he seems to have taken away more from his Undercover Boss experience than the majority of the other CEOs. Sheldon was also one of the most generous, awarding roughly of $20,000 to his “mentors”.
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