Fans of the television show "The Office" surely recall the employees of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company and their socially inept leader Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell. The characters' adventures were always good for laughs, but underneath the hilarity were some valuable lessons for business owners.
Here are the top five lessons you can take away from "The Office:"
1. It's All About Relationships
Michael Scott understood that you need to establish strong relationships with employees, vendors, prospects and customers in order to achieve business success. In an early episode, Jan and Michael went out to dinner with Christian, an important potential client. Jan wanted to get down to business immediately but Michael kept hijacking the conversation, asking Christian personal questions and convincing him to sing a duet. By the end of the night, this newly established friendship led to a major sale. While Michael may have gone a little bit too far sometimes, his actions were certainly driven by an understanding of this important dynamic.
2. Reward Good Work
In the popular television series, Dunder Mifflin held an annual dinner during which Michael would distribute "Dundies" to reward good work. Organizing these types of events can be very valuable, as one of the best ways to hold on to your employees is to make them feel appreciated by recognizing their contributions.
3. Encourage Laughter and Fun in the Workplace
Michael always tried to brighten everyone's day with a few jokes, and Jim's pranks on Dwight kept the mood in the office light. By inserting these types of antics in an appropriate way, you can encourage a more positive mood in your workplace. After all, no one wants to go to work in a harsh, extremely serious environment.
4. Make Sure That You're Hiring Appropriately
No one could ever claim that the Dunder Mifflin team was lean. From multiple salespeople to unnecessary supervisors and managers, it's no wonder that the paper company couldn't afford its overhead. A better approach for small and midsized businesses is to justify each and every position before adding a new hire. It's important for you to make sure that you can afford a new team member for an extended period and that you cut or consolidate redundant positions.
5. Establish Policies About Dating Co-workers
While the romantic relationships between co-workers that were featured on "The Office" certainly offered comedic fodder for the show, they also often caused chaos. It's important to keep in mind that you have a business to run, and office romances can make life awkward, even when things are going well. Just look at what happened with Michael and Jan. While you may not want to go as far as prohibiting romantic relationships between co-workers, it's important to put some policies in place in an employee handbook that can be updated and acknowledged by the employees.
Sure, you probably laughed at the goofy stunts that Michael pulled on "The Office," but when you really think about it, the show did offer some valuable lessons for business owners.
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