The American version of The Office came to an end one week ago today. While the series often contained farcical situations, it also taught valuable workplace lessons. With the series’ end came a number of articles illustrating these lessons, including “The Office” Finale: Series Offers Workplace Lessons for Students from the USA Today website.
While the article discusses how these lessons apply in a general sense to those entering the work world, three of them can also apply specifically to communication in the professional world.
Company Culture Is Important
The article discusses how fans of the show end up wanting to work at Dunder Mifflin, but what happens when you enter a workplace culture very different from your own? Adjustment doesn’t come easy for everyone, as Jim learned when he switched from the Scranton branch to the Stamford branch.
Both the Scranton branch and Stamford branch are known to waste time with games at the office, but there is a marked difference between the types of games and the intensity of play. The Scranton branch is more laid back, which fits with Jim’s personality. The Stamford branch began playing Call of Duty as a team building exercise, and its employees remained intensely competitive long after the original purpose was no longer relevant, as can be seen in the following clip:
The nature of Jim’s personality coupled with his work history made fitting in to the Stamford branch difficult for him. Studies show that professional happiness is often more directly related to the workplace culture than the actual nature of your position. When choosing a new position, think not only about your duties, but your place in the organization and whether the relationships you form there will be beneficial to your personal and professional development. However, if you are a flexible person by nature, you have an advantage. Adaptability is not just a good trait to help boost your technical skills. It can also build your social skills, leading to more fulfilling work relationships.
Don’t Be Fooled by a Fake Opportunity
The article referenced above uses one of Jim’s pranks on Dwight as an example of fake job opportunities, but a more realistic one would be the pyramid-like scheme Michael gets involved with in the following clip:
These offers are more prevalent than you might think. However, they can be easily spotted if you know which phrases to look for in job placement ads. Mostly found in job search engines like Monster, CareerBuilder, or Craigslist, look out for ads that promise “unlimited earning potential” and “no experience necessary”. “Unlimited earning potential” is often code for “100% commission”. If the position promises management opportunities, ask yourself why there would be “no experience necessary”. These positions are usually found under management, marketing, and sales categories, and are often targeted specifically to recent graduates.
You will most likely get paid if you perform in such a position, but the earning potential is not as great as these companies would lead you to believe. Another easy way to spot these types of jobs? If they ask you for money upfront. A stable position never requires an investment before you even start.
Make Good on Promises
Like any relationship, the ones you build through business are most effective when built upon a foundation of trust. One of the best ways to create that foundation is to follow through on your word as much as you possibly can. The more promises you keep and deadlines you meet, the more your colleagues can count on you for important tasks in the future.
To help prevent broken promises, be mindful of what is realistic. Making unrealistic promises can get you into a lot of trouble, such as when Michael promised a class of third graders that he would fund all of their college educations when the time came, as seen in the clip below. In the end, Michael was only able to provide them with laptop batteries.