7 Business Lessons From Michael Scott
What The Office taught us about the job
For nine years, The Office transcended the half-hour sitcom block because it related to viewers on a personal level. Its characters were both hysterical and too real all at once. The show’s protagonist, an idiot boss/inspirational dreamer named Michael Scott, lacked common sense and an ounce of management skills. He made up for that with a giant heart and good ol’ fashioned chutzpah, which he had in spades. His “unique” approach to the office brings to light common topics and situations we all face in our professional lives. Let’s glean from seven key principles Michael taught us.
Fake it till you make it
If you find yourself in a situation where you are in over your head, don’t be so quick to give up. Michael clearly lacked the core competencies required for his position, but that never stopped him. Deep down he knew he wasn’t fully qualified, but was determined to prove everyone wrong … and on occasion Michael had moments of genius that forced his staff to re-evaluate their perception of him.
“You should never settle for who you are.”
Careful who you promote
If you are in a position to promote someone, don’t just pick the highest performer. Michael was the poster child for this scenario. As a top paper salesman, he was promoted into a regional manager role. Many times in the professional world this injustice takes place, and we see it not only hurt the business, but the star performer as well. Michael demonstrated the grave importance of developing entry level staff, continued training, and preparing employees for bigger opportunities beyond the scope of their current job description.
“If I ever got to walk around the room as manager people would laugh when they saw me coming, and would applaud as I walked away.”
Don’t lead people through fear
Michael wore his heart on his sleeve, and he hungered for acceptance. He may have acted inappropriately, but Michael never set out to make people fear him. The result: turnover on his team was nearly non-existent. No one can thrive when they fear for their job every day. They can however handle a boss who doesn’t take things too seriously.
“I want people to fear how much they love me.”
Meetings kill productivity
Michael hosted team meetings in almost every episode. The show poked excessive fun at the absurdity of these meetings while shining a light on a problem many of us face. Unless a meeting has a clear agenda where action items are defined and delegated, there really is no reason to pay people to sit in a room together. Follow that recipe and you might just get to cut out early on Friday.
“Today we’re going to be talking about…..PowerPoint.”
Fancy words don’t make you sound smart
How often do you run into that guy at work that abusively employs jargon and euphemisms, trying to sound savvy about the business? There is a time and place for these things. Michael demonstrated how not to use them.
“Just tell him to call me as ASAP as possible.”
There is a time and place for jokes
The average professional spends more than a third of their life on the clock. Sad as that may be, work is a place exactly suited for that — work. No one is saying you can’t have a good time, but you need to establish clear boundaries. Michael pushed the envelope of appropriateness every day and crossed too many lines to count. The best rule of thumb when you’re unsure whether a joke will offend: Save it for outside of the office.
“There is no such thing as an appropriate joke. That’s why it’s a joke.”
Diversity isn’t a four letter word
People today are so scared to even acknowledge diversity for fear that someone might take it the wrong way. As long as we handle it with care, we can still address these issues head on. Michael Scott didn’t have a filter and his comments typically lacked sensitivity. This wasn’t because he was prejudice or harbored intolerance, he just didn’t have the social skills needed for a professional environment. Throughout the series it was clear that Michael couldn’t care less about anyone’s race, religion, or sex: He was mostly focused on getting people to like him. Michael showed us that diversity is a good thing. We can embrace it and even laugh at the things that make us different.
“White collar, blue collar, I don’t see it that way. You know why not? Because I am collar blind.”