Enjoy the company (of your company)
“Enjoy the company of your company.”
So went the lyrics of the finale song in the off-Broadway show, The Office! A Musical Parody.
I happened to see the show when I was in Manhattan for the reunion of a real office.
M. Silver Associates, the public relations agency that employed me from 1986 to 1995, was no Dunder-Mifflin. But the coincidence was brilliant.
Working for demanding clients, we experienced countless indignities. In close quarters. Under considerable stress.
But somehow, we loved the company of that company. So, about 40 people came to reminisce.
I wondered why.
“The Office taught us that an office is not always just an office, it can be a home,” wrote Troy Campbell in the Huffington Post after the show’s finale in 2013. “And just like any home, you don’t have to like or agree with everyone…”
We may bond over a benevolent boss. Or a deep friendship or two. We even may bond over a common enemy.
Driven by nostalgia, and surrounded by friends, I messaged a former client to let her know that her old account team was remembering her fondly.
Immediately she messaged back:
“Looking back, I think I was really mean and not appreciative of the work that you guys did. Not to make excuses, but I think I was under a lot of stress.”
No kidding. She was brutal! But wow! We were surprised she was aware. Much less, that she had regrets.
So, what’s the message here? And how can we be better leaders, learners and leavers?
As leaders—As Simon Sinek has said, we can “choose to be the leaders we wish we had.” What kind of behavior will we permit on our watch? And where do we draw our lines? Whether we lead large teams, or move from gig to gig as solopreneurs, we can create an inspiring and safe environment for ourselves and others. As Creed said in the final episode of The Office, “No matter how you get there or where you end up, human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home.”
As learners—Pam said it, so it must be so: “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things.” What we learn on the job may seem unimportant or unimpressive at the time, but the beauty will no doubt reveal itself eventually.
And as leavers—At some point, we will leave every place we ever work. So, the grace is in how we do it. What we say on the way out is how we’ll be remembered. Jim said it best: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
While Michael Scott will always be the “World’s Greatest Boss,” we all can do our part to make work a kinder and gentler affair.
Doing great work can and should be fun.
Let’s remember to make it so.