The Office on bad office politics
We can all agree that The Office was one of the best shows ever made — the American version, of course. We can also agree that if you’re trying to be a more thoughtful office employee or manager, the last thing you should do is act like some of the characters (we’re looking at you, Michael Scott, Jim Halpert, and Dwight K. Schrute) who tend to prioritize themselves over everyone else. The Office can teach us all what not to do in an office, and we’re here to break down some of the best examples of office politics in the show while explaining how you can avoid similar, but hopefully not as intense, scenarios.
Michael Scott vs. HR
Michael Scott and Toby Flenderson encounters all have a similar theme: Michael hates Toby because Toby is HR and prioritizes Corporate’s interests over Michael’s. However, this doesn’t seem to sway Michael. Let’s take a closer look at an episode involving Dwight and a caprese salad. Michael wants David Wallace from Corporate to fire Toby after learning he’s back in the office to replace Holly, another HR representative that Michael falls in love with. David explains to Michael that there has to be a legitimate reason for Toby to be fired, so Michael and Dwight devise a plan. Michael attempts to buy weed from one of the people working in the warehouse so he can plant them in Toby’s desk and have him arrested, but it’s really a caprese salad. HR is a safe place for employees to go to when they feel like they need an unbiased opinion from someone within the company regarding serious issues such as office politics going too far or sexual harassment. Employees can go to HR if there’s a serious issue with a manager, but not if there’s a significant conflict of interest like this one.
Dwight’s Fire Drill
Dwight Schrute is known to take things to the absolute extreme. Dwight feels that the office isn’t prepared enough for a serious event like a fire, but instead of going to Michael, HR, or Corporate, he takes matters into his own hands… It goes without saying that this episode is peak-Dwight, but it is also one of the worst ways he uses office politics to his advantage. Dwight feels that he’s above everyone else, but knows that he can’t encourage anyone to care enough about fire safety unless he takes things to the absolute extreme by putting their lives in danger. Instead of lighting your office on fire, speak to HR if you feel like your life is in danger and no one is taking you seriously. There are ways companies can go about teaching fire safety and other kinds of dangerous scenarios if you feel that they’re necessary. Explore those options instead of putting everyone in the office’s lives in danger — especially if you don’t want to wind up arrested.
New Chairs vs. A New Printer vs. Michael Scott
Here, we have a scenario where there’s extra room in the budget to spend on something important. Oscar, the accountant, suggests a new copier because the old one is horrible, and Pam suggests new chairs. Michael finally decides to call David Wallace for advice and David wonders outloud why Michael wouldn’t just turn in the extra money to give himself a 15 percent bonus. He decides to do just that knowing he’s the manager and can do as he pleases with complete disregard for the rest of the office’s needs. Ultimately, the lesson here if you’re a manager is to understand that your employees can see right through your actions. Your job as a manager is to do what’s best for the company.
The Final Word
Office politics are an unavoidable scenario we’re all faced with from time to time. The Office is a gift that keeps on giving, regardless of the number of times you binge watch the entire series. In fact, as we’ve shown, there are a number of events that take place in the show that teach us to not take advantage of office politics. You can be Michael Scott and offer your employees a fun, open work environment and maintain a healthy relationship with HR; you can be Dwight Schrute and put the good of the company over your own personal needs, and you can do so without jeopardising the lives of everyone else you work with. Author bio: Reuben Yonatan is the CEO @ GetVoIP, a leading VoIP systems comparison guide that connects shoppers with relevant providers.