CEO Blog: Introducing the Undercover Boss (not really) Series – My quest to get more in-touch this summer | Winnipeg Humane Society
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Have you ever been diagnosed with Ivory Tower Syndrome?

Well, I have. This particular syndrome affects Managers working in an administrative position, removed from day-to-day operations and not dealing with the public every day.

The effects include not understanding many of the jobs people do in your workplace, being invisible to staff, and general isolation from reality. It also includes sitting in two-hour meetings in your own office for most of the day, rarely venturing out to the rest of the building. It is a very serious condition!

So how did I find out I had caught this nasty bug?

Every April, I send an anonymous survey to staff to find out what they think of my performance. I call this the “How am I doing?” survey. And this year, they let me know loud and clear that I was disconnected from the front lines. While the WHS staff really appreciated my role as the liaison between our shelter and government officials, the animal welfare community, and all the different stakeholders; they also felt I was out-of-touch with reality.

This comment someone wrote in the survey sums it up: “Come and do our jobs, see the challenges we face and how we actually do the work”.

Now when you ask a question (as I did in looking for feedback) and you get the honest answer (even when it’s uncomfortable), you need to be prepared to accept that feedback and prove you really want to listen. So, I made a promise to the WHS team: the CEO will endeavour to do as many front-line jobs as possible before the end of this summer.

Over the next few weeks, you will read about my experiences in the Intake and Foster Departments, Investigations and Emergency Response area, the WHS Clinic, our Behaviour and Community Outreach team, the Adoption and Retail Departments and the Animal Care team. No spreadsheets, no email, no putting together briefing notes or memos. I will literally roll up my sleeves and learn what it takes to do front-line work at the Winnipeg Humane Society.

I am ready to start treatment and walk a mile in the shoes of our team on the front lines. Follow along over the summer as I share my experiences.

In service,
Javier Schwersensky
Winnipeg Humane Society