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Business Lessons From "The Office" Part 2

Goooood morning Vietnam!

Welcome back to our second installment of business lessons we can derive from The Office, one of the “best” examples we have of the 9-5 grind available on Netflix.

Meeting Mania

“Conference Room. Five Minutes” is arguably Michael’s most widely used directive to his team. The Dunder Mifflin gang easily meets over 100 times throughout the show for matters such as ageism in the workplace, sexual harassment and about fifty other corporate initiatives Michael manages to misunderstand and thus offend his staff. Regardless of the cause, overuse of meetings is as pervasive in the real world as in Dunder Mifflin. All too often we leave meetings feeling as though no valuable information was provided - or if it was - the same information could have been sent in an email digest.

If you are in a role where you can set meetings for colleagues, be mindful of their time and consider an airtight agenda if an in-person meeting is required. Some of the best places I have worked for itemized their agenda down to each minute, ensuring maximum value in the minimum amount of time. Unless it’s Movie Monday…

Line and Staff

Dunder Mifflin is a sales organization with consistent emphasis given to clients and their satisfaction. We see numerous episodes focus on sales calls, customer retention, and the less-than-desirable effects of some lude watermarks on client growth. We also see how the rest of the office functions view the salespeople and some contentious situations that arise when a choice must be made to reward sales or the other corporate functions. While you can guarantee that Michael (and Jim) mishandle these situations with a high degree of hilarity, the show sheds light on yet another corporate truth: the underlying rift between line and staff.

Whether it’s sales and marketing, consultants and delivery, or airline pilots and administration, there will always be a gap between those who bring in business and those who manage it once sold. Both sides feel that the other does not appreciate their situation given the lack of hands-on experience. Usually, both sides of any such discussion make fair points and truth can be uncovered around ways to improve these relationships. Managers must take the time necessary to fully understand the motivations for each team and prioritize morale and alignment over revenue at times, not an easy request. Aligning these groups as often as possible will results in constructive interactions and leaders should foster those discussions. Michael typically prefers to side with sales, his previous role, and such bias will only alienate the other teams. Dunder Mifflin shows us all the functions needed to drive a business forward, each with their unique value and worth executive alignment. Except the warehouse, of course.

That’s it for this week folks! Come find me at the Steamtown Mall if you have any questions.

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