The Office, at least the first couple of seasons, is one of my all time favorite television shows. In writing about career issues for Career Counseling Connecticut, I often draw on the grittiness of the real world. But suggesting that career changers pay attention to General Electric’s move from Connecticut is not happy making. Watching The Office will make you laugh and you will get some career lessons without the bitter pill of reality.
The premise: Dunder Mifflin has to close one of its branches and the Scranton branch, where the story’s characters reside, is on the chopping block. Their jobs are at the discretion of the New York corporate office which could choose to close Scranton or another branch. Everyone in corporate America should be mindful of this lesson and thus actively taking part in creating their escape plan or next step.
The competent characters: Since it is a comedy, many of the characters are buffoons. But take note of the few characters that are competent – Oscar, the accountant, as one example – in relation to their equivalent level of helplessness related to saving their jobs. It doesn’t matter how good Oscar is at his job. If the branch closes, he, too, is out of his job. The number of Career Counseling Connecticut’s clients who professed: “I can’t believe I was laid off. My performance reviews were so good.” has grown exponentially in the last the few years. Why? Because poor performance was not their issue. Cost-cutting, restructuring, office politics etc. are more pervasive than ever before and, as such, all workers need to be ready for their next move.
The lackadaisical characters: Most of the characters lack ambition but the person to focus upon is Jim because he has “latent ambition”. He is just going through the motions at his job, despite talents that should take him to greater heights. Nonetheless, it is evident that he yearns for something more in a career. He learns through the show’s evolution what many of our clients learn through life: unless you take action, your career won’t change.
Perhaps it is time to get ready for 2017 by preparing for a career change right now.