TOO MUCH REALITY? HOW IS THIS HELPFUL?
I admit to avoiding most reality TV shows. (Once in a while my entrepreneurial spirit lures me to “Shark Tank.”) And don’t get me started on how increasingly so much of life is portrayed on the level of a high school popularity contest. But last week a new reality show hit new depths of destructive behavior - “Does Someone Have to Go?” (Thursdays on Fox).
Seemingly part docuseries and part game show format It takes place at various actual small companies where the bosses transfer authority to the workers – who might like that power for a short while. However it soon turns both ugly and heart-rending since the object is to call out their colleagues for pay cuts, demotions and terminations – to lose their jobs for real!
The first episode takes place in a family-owned business where several of the 70 employees are related to the founder, including her husband (the chief executive) her mother (the accountant), her brother and 2 cousins. After reading the NY Times TV review (by Jon Caramanica), I was strangely curious to watch the first episode, and now I’m done with it. The tensions and arguments build along with creeping fear for everyone. Pettiness, misinformation, personal feelings, tensions around age and race – it’s all there dragged out in the open by the bosses remotely broadcast instructions on video to the group called repeatedly to the conference room.
While the seemingly sadistic bosses and TV executives say that no one was forced to participate, a significant number of employees at various levels did, whether from ego, narcissism or fear of declining. While I am not going to watch the conclusion of the first company’s experience, it is pretty clear the outcome will not be happily ever after. As the Times reviewer put it, they “run the risk of conflict, humiliation, and possibly, unemployment…to say nothing of whatever long-term internal damage is done to the company for choosing to unearth all its buried tensions in such a public arena.”
How does one justify this – at any time and particularly when jobs are hard to come by? Can you imagine this sort of exercise achieving an increase in engagement, productivity and morale? Please comment and share your thoughts.
Phyllis Weiss Haserot www.pdcounsel.com