Is It Possible to Find Real Workplace Advice in The Office?

Two employees who are visually impaired, hard at work at their desks.

I have recently been re-watching one of the funniest shows ever, The Office. I know there are people who don’t particularly find this show as hilarious as I do, but you must admit it, wouldn’t it be fun to have just one day at your job be like the “old school” days at Dunder Mifflin? Wouldn’t it be entertaining to experience one of Michael’s ridiculous meetings, watch Jim’s prank on Dwight unfold, and sing along with Andy while he punches a hole in the wall? You know it would be great! But how long would that really last before someone lost their job?

Although I enjoy the characters and chaos of the Scranton branch, I know that I could never actually have that type of day at work or even exhibit most of the workplace characteristics Michael, Jim, Dwight, and Andy have. I mean, how do they keep their jobs anyway? But after some thoughtful Netflix watching, I have determined that while they do have a lot of negative workplace characteristics, they do exhibit some qualities that have helped them maintain, and for some even advance, in their careers.

So what negative and positive workplace characteristics do my favorite Dunder Mifflin employees have?

Michael Scott. Michael is a perfect example of a worker who just wasn’t ready to move up in his career. His constant inappropriate jokes, lack of self-awareness, and his ongoing distractions has turned him into a terrible manager. Although Michael wasn’t mature enough to take on a management position, he does exhibit some qualities of a good employee. Before Michael became the branch manager, he was an exceptional salesman able to relate well with clients by using his personable attitude to his advantage. Even as a manager, Michael was always there to support his sales team with a difficult lead.

Dwight Schrute. Despite his lack of social skills and common sense, Dwight maintained his position as top salesman at the Scranton branch for many years. His desperation for leadership was met by his constant stride for success, meaningless promotions, and his off-the-job training (even though his training was mostly unrelated to his field). Dwight’s initiative to learn “vital” skills and share with his coworkers through office-wide training showed his willingness to take charge of a group. However, Dwight was too authoritative and practiced too many unsafe work practices to land a promotion he “so rightly deserved.”

Jim Halpert. Throughout the years, Jim has had several position changes within Dunder Mifflin, but he was never able to sustain a leadership position with the company. Although this is due to several reasons, Jim ultimately was not taken seriously by his coworkers to be a leader. His long list of pranks and his office romance with Pam Beesly caused constant distractions for himself and other employees. However, when it comes down to it, Jim was a good salesman, he was well-liked by most of his coworkers, and he was full of potential.

Andy Bernard. By far Andy seemed to make the most personal changes during the show. He went from being the weird coworker at the Stamford branch to the anger management patient to the regional manager. Prior to Andy’s promotion, he was a difficult employee. His irrational behavior and lack of self-confidence caused difficulty for him at work. He constantly had the lowest sales numbers in the entire office. However, after his promotion, Andy did everything in his power to be the best boss he could be. He worked hard to motivate his team and take initiative on office-related problems.

Ryan Howard. I just had to mention the forever temporary employee Ryan. Although I find Ryan’s sarcasm hilarious, he is a perfect example of a terrible employee. Ryan received the opportunity to learn valuable on-the-job training by becoming a temp for Dunder Mifflin while he was in business school, but after getting his big break, Ryan blew every opportunity presented to him. Despite his termination, he did return to Dunder Mifflin to hide in the shadows. Never blow an opportunity like Ryan. Ensure you are prepared to maintain your new position.

While I hold most of these characters near to my heart, I would never encourage anyone to be just like them, but I will encourage you to learn from their mistakes and try to emulate their positive characteristics.

To ensure your future workplace success, be sure to have a positive attitude and be a team player like Michael. Don’t miss your opportunity for a promotion due to a lack of well-developed interpersonal skills.

Guarantee you have the appropriate leadership skills, initiative, and career-related off-the-job training like Dwight to finally make it to management. Continue your education and training to assist your career advancement.

Be sure to up your game like Jim and Andy in times of need. Improve your compensatory skills by taking control of your life and become dependable at work by improving your job performance.

And most of all don’t be a Ryan. Be sure to exceed your employer’s expectations instead of slacking off.

For more tips and advice on how to keep your current job and move up the career ladder, check out the new course, Maintaining Employment and Advancing Your Career. Register for AFB CareerConnect today to access this free, online course.