Michael Scott, Regional Manager of the fictional paper products company Dunder-Mifflin, is prying, inappropriate, and manipulative. He’s offended everyone he’s worked with or for. And he’s created a hostile working environment time and time again. He’s a great salesman but a bad boss.
But as he would say, he’s not a bad person. He has shown time and again on the mockumentary NBC TV show “The Office”, that there are hints of a good manager in there. He’s risen through the ranks from staff to management. He’s good at recognizing his soft spots (sometimes too good at announcing them). And nobody knows more about his staff and their skills than he does. Here are five examples of traits he showed, ones many bosses could put to good use.
Know the job
Prior to his promotion to management, Michael Scott was one of the most celebrated salespeople in Dunder-Mifflin, winning top sales awards time and time again. He claimed that at least two-thirds of the current prospects for his branch in Scranton were his own personal contacts. Jim Halpert has admitted that he’s impressed with Scott’s skills. So unlike some bosses, he has been in the trenches and walked the walk. Leaders should be aware that the skills one needs to do the job are not the same skills to manage people doing the job.
Admit your faults
Scott is often the first to express his weaknesses and failings. He even declared bankruptcy at one point, albeit by literally standing up and shouting the phrase “I declare bankruptcy”. He did it, though, to the entire staff, a bit of sharing that shows he is well aware how he looks and forges ahead anyway. But he also uses the classic maneuver of turning his weaknesses into strengths. Or pretending to. Same thing, right.
Celebrate your staff
Nobody shows more employee recognition than Michael Scott. He’s ready for a party or celebration or award at the drop of a hat, regardless of what pressing deadline or looming disaster might be coming. Some might say he is simply postponing the disaster, procrastinating, hiding his head in the sand; those people would often be right. It’s still a good idea to stop and smell the roses, and to let your staff know you appreciate them. Scott even leans on someone in his office who loves to plan and set up parties: Angela Martin. Delegation is a great tactical skill for a boss.
Value your skills
When he found out that warehouse manager Daryl was making only slightly less than he was, Scott was unafraid to confront his boss and ask for a raise. At that point, he had been with the company for almost a decade and a half and, despite everything else, had been a productive salesman and weirdly effective manager. He deserved a raise. Bosses should stand up for themselves if they are undervalued, but maybe should champion their underlings, too.
Ask for advice
Scott’s effectiveness as a manager is often tied to chance or his impressive talent for avoiding any decision at all. But one of his better quality as a superior is being able to lean on his staff for advice. Dwight Schrute, Pam Beesly, Jim Halpert, or honestly, everyone he’s ever worked for, can recall a time when Scott came to them begging for advice on what to do. This is a great trait in a boss, but maybe don’t blame them when things go horribly wrong.
All and all, Michael Scott can teach a thing or two about good management.