Personal Stories

Diversity Day – The Office, Season 1, Episode 2.

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**College Paper**

“The Office,” a show on NBC that originated from the United Kingdom was a huge hit for those who worked in office situations and or just enjoyed comedies in general in the United States.  Although there were several characters named Jim, Pam and Dwight, the focus for this essay is Michael Scott.  Michael Scott is the Branch Manager for the paper company “Dunder Mifflin” who has a supervisory style that most individuals would not want to emulate.  However through his bumbling ways, the message is never intended to hurt or insult an employee.  In fact he tried to have the employees work as a “TEAM” which will be discussed later in this essay.

“Diversity Day” is the second episode of season one of “The Office” (NBC, 2005).  What individuals do not know is that this was considered a pilot when it was aired.  Another little known fact that “Diversity Day” was pulled from the United Kingdom sitcom.  The BBC believed that it had too harsh of racial undertones to be aired in Britain.  The episode focuses on Michael Scott conducting a Chris Rock monologue in the office that garnered a visit from a Mr. Brown, who was in charge of giving a racial diversity course in the office.  What happens next is not recommended in the office environment, ever (YouTube, 29).

Michael Scott learned that Mr. Brown was going to give the diversity seminar, so he decided to beat corporate to the punch by conducting his own.  What Michael Scott did not know was the reason for the seminar was to enlighten him on what not to do in the workplace environment, such as the Chris Rock incident.  During the episode, Michael decides to place index cards on each employee forehead which are clearly marked “Martin Luther King Jr., Asian, Jewish, Indian” and the like. He called this meeting the “Diversity Tomorrow” (because today is almost over) (NBC, 2005).

While the index cards are on his employees’ foreheads, he begins to have each employee play a form of the game “Jeopardy” and each employee has to guess which nationality, race or creed is placed on their forehead.  At one point, Michael turns to an employee of Indian descent named “Kelly Kapoor” and begins to hurl insults at her.  Kelly is wearing the Indian index card.  Clearly, this is not what a supervisor or manager should do to promote diversity and awareness (NBC, 2005).

Meetings on diversity or any other topic for that matter should never been conducted in a manner that Michael Scott did.  Although awareness training, education is a part of the Diversity awareness process, it should never be considered a “game.”  His arrogance clearly in the episode got away with him.  However, the focus is that he tried to “communicate with a Team, or Together Everyone Achieves More.”  (Conlow, 2001)  In conducting the Diversity training, Michael Scott did hold a “work-group meeting” to share “company information and conduct training”  (Conlow, 2001) albeit completely inappropriate in nature.

Scott’s character during this episode did exhibit inspiration as a means to “fire people up” and clearly he was “honest” in his intentions (Conlow, 2001).  However, Michael Scott displayed some of the worst coaching behaviors as a Manager such as “provide only negative feedback, listened ineffectively, and has poor people skills” (Conlow, 2001) .  His techniques were not effective because he was inflamatory in nature in the training subject, he had no familiarity with the subject at hand and clearly in the episode, the diversity training was for him.  The “Diversity Day” episode causes more stress on his employees by not wanting to participate in the class, and giving the feeling that Michael Scott has no clue as to what he is talking about and almost borderline racist.

All is not lost with Michael Scott’s character in this episode.  The message that he tries to relay and fails at is that not everyone is a label, and therefore should not be treated as such.  As someone who works in the corporate workplace, most individuals have received diversity training by a manager or corporate head.  As someone who has had to train individuals in diversity, it is key to have set “clear expectations” of what the meeting is about.  “Give constructive feedback” on discussions such as the topic of diversity.  “Listen” intently to what each individual has to say and clearly a person should have such as this writer, “good people skills” to discern the information being given and responses back from employees  (Conlow, 2001).

My personal experience in working with at team happens everyday currently.  We hold fifteen minute meetings every day in the office which have clear objectives.  An agenda is set, there are branch priorities that are discussed such as metrics for office production from the prior day.  Announcements and office procedures are reviewed in the event that there is something new to learn and there are discussions regarding either a positive customer experience or if there is a customer pain point that should be reviewed so that the team finds a new and effective work around.  The huddle meetings is a time to reflect on positive team work as well, where an employee is highlighted for exemplary customer service or going that extra mile.

In closing, there are individuals who have the traits, personality or behaviors to lead and there are those who do not.  Using a textbook per say to supervise employees is not a sure thing because there are situations that occur everyday that may not “textbook” in nature.  A guide is always good to have if a person has not held a supervisory position, but a individual needs to have life experiences and or the traits to lead to be a fair, clear and effective supervisor.  These are traits that Michael Scott does not possess in this episode of “The Office” or any other episode for that matter.  Unfortunately, the Michael Scott’s of the supervisory world do exist and it is clear that those are individuals who could use a textbook manual in supervising employees.

References

Conlow, r. (2001). Excellence in supervision: essential skills for new supervisors. Crisp

NBC. (2005, 29 March). The Office, “Diversity Day” Season 1, Episode 2 .

YouTube. (29, March). The Office, Diversity Day. 2005.

 

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