The Michael Scott Guide to Managing Internal Publics

Considering I’m a Scranton native, it’s inevitable I write something based on everyone’s favorite TV show, The Office. The highlight of the show is Dunder Mifflin’s unconventional boss, Michael Scott. Though the comedy in the series is found in Michael’s antics, which are typically wildly inappropriate, his tactics to successfully manage internal publics is incredible. Here are three reasons Michael Scott should be rewarded the title of “World’s Best Boss.”

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He encouraged employees outside of the workplace.

Every aspect of your life affects your work. Having a supportive and satisfying life outside of the office allows you to focus more. Compromising is key to a company’s success.

In The Office, Michael continuously supports his employees outside of the workplace. In “Business School” (season 3, episode 17), Michael is the only person who shows up to Pam’s art show. After a night of criticism and lack of support from her coworkers, Michael’s presence and the purchase of her art repair an otherwise disappointing night.

Support is shown by Michael encouraging his workers to participate in each others’ lives. He proves he is a caring boss by closing the office down so everyone could go to Pam and Jim’s wedding, throwing Phyllis a bachelorette party, coming to the hospital when Cece is born, attending Andy’s play and, making a surprise entrance at Dwight’s wedding. His support has an impact on every character’s work ethic, and this is proven by the fact that the Scranton branch is Dunder Mifflin’s most profitable.

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He helped his employees to not take everything seriously.

Sometimes workplaces are often serious and uptight considering that people make their money through work performance. This is especially true for sales workers because their salary sometimes depends on the commission. Serious environments can dampen an overall “mojo” and turn eight hours of the day into something dreadful. Studies have shown that happy people are more productive people.

I can name too many times that Michael’s behavior is anything but positive, but the helpful and generous gestures outweigh the bad ones. In “Murder in Savannah” (season 6, episode 10), the office worried about Dunder Mifflin’s potential bankruptcy that could’ve threatened their jobs. Michael attempted, and succeeded, to distract his employees with a murder mystery game. The game ultimately releases the tension around the office.

Even if Michael’s meetings were often silly and unnecessary, they forced interaction between departments that otherwise would have worked separately. That kind of team-building helps sales calls and competitions, for instance, when the branch battled corporate in a volleyball game. Michael made work fun in an otherwise dying as well as a boring industry.

He showed them he cared.

We long for people to care about us, whether it’s family, friends or, yes, even our bosses. Genuine interest makes for a more connected and healthy work environment because it communicates to employees that they matter.

No one can claim Michael didn’t care about every one of his employees. If anything he cared too much, knowing details about their personal lives and wanting them all to be his best friends. A great example of when he showed appreciation for all of his employees was in the episode “Branch Closing” (season 3, episode 7); Michael stationed himself out of David Wallace’s (The CEO of Dunder Mifflin) house, ready to fight for the Scranton branch to stay alive. He was so dedicated to his employees that he spent an entire day waiting to protest to save his employee’s jobs.

What we can take away.

I don’t think anyone will disagree that Michael is flawed and has made many mistakes in his management position at Dunder Mifflin. However, it can’t be said that all of his tactics were unfounded and morally incorrect. The Scranton branch, dysfunctional as it was, was profitable and happy and made for quite the TV show. We should all be open to taking a page out of Michael’s Scott, “Somehow, I Manage” book and learning a thing or two about managing internal publics.

-Kyra Beckish

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