Thursday, June 7, 2012

Excerpt from "Chuck" vs. the Business World - Who Works for You?

Enjoy Chapter Three from "Chuck" vs. the Business World: Business Tips on TV:

Employees are both the backbone and the ambassadors of any business. So, the importance of having the right people can in no way be overestimated. And that’s not just about employees with certain skills, but with solid character and strong work ethics as well.

In contrast, the wrong employees mean that your business can suffer or even go under. The Buy More in Chuck regularly serves up examples of the wrong people for the job.

• When extra work is dumped on the Nerd Herd crew while Chuck is off on a mission, they immediately look to bail. While Morgan urges them to get back to work, they offer lame excuses for leaving, with one herder, Anna Wu (Julia Ling), saying, “Internet poker,” and Jeff adding, “I’m off by 8:00 and hammered by 8:05.” (Season 1, Episode 3: “Chuck Versus the Tango”)

• Assigned to do a double shift at the Buy More, Morgan instead goes AWOL to an arcade to play a video game. (Season 1, Episode 6: “Chuck Versus the Sandworm”)

• When Buy More employees believe that another firm is going to purchase the store and fire everyone except Morgan and Chuck, Big Mike and the others lock down the store and barricade themselves in until they get their jobs back. (Season 3, Episode 9: “Chuck Versus the Beard”)

Big Mike declares, “These corporate fat cats believe they can take whatever they want. They can take our dignity. They can take all the hot women. But they will not take our jobs. And they will never take our store.”

Later, Casey has to enter the store on separate spy business, but the protestors stop him and question his loyalties. Casey asks, “What the hell is going on in here?”

And Jeff responds, “We’re staging a revolution to take down the man.”

Lester asks Casey: “How do we know we can trust you, son, that you’re not some kind of spy for the man?”

Casey’s answer: “Because the only thing I hate more than hippie, neo-liberal fascists and anarchists are the hypocrite, fat-cat suits they eventually grow up to become.”

Lester says, “Yep, that works for me.”

• Morgan tries to tell Big Mike that he is going to quit, and they both wind up crying. When Morgan offers a hug, Big Mike stops him and, referring to his own employees, says, “I can’t show emotions like this, those animals out there, they’ll get me if I do.” (Season 3, Episode 13: “Chuck Versus the Other Guy”)

• When managing the Buy More with Halloween approaching, Morgan needs to get the store decorated. He starts out doing it himself, but is overwhelmed. Big Mike offers advice: “After 12-and-a-half weeks at the El Segundo School of Finance, I learned one very important word: delegate. That word is the key to being a successful manager.” Morgan thanks him and asks Big Mike to “dress the Buy More for Halloween.” Big Mike turns him down because he is “knee deep in this new Danielle Steel novel.” (Season 4, Episode 6: “Chuck Versus the Aisle of Terror”)

Big Mike adds that he is “not nearly scary enough to build a haunted house. You need to put some real crazies on that” – referring to Jeff and Lester – “if you want it done correctly.”

After given the task of making the store fun and scary, Lester tells Jeff: “We got to tap into a place that is so scary, so demented, that it’ll change Halloween as we know it. We got to tap into your head.”

Most of the store winds up being decorated in appropriately fun fashion, except for Jeffster’s Aisle of Terror, which is just strange. As Morgan observes, “It’s scary, but in a really bad way.”

Chuck Business Tips

While episodes of Chuck make the point with humor, it’s extremely frustrating to deal with employees who have little, if any, interest in doing their jobs, never mind the notion of more broadly looking for ways to make the firm more successful.

Unfortunately, there always seem to be workers who will find excuses to avoid pitching in when extra work must be done. Others rebel against almost any kind of authority.

For good measure, there is the question of employees who cannot be trusted to carry out tasks independently.

Business owners and managers cannot afford to simply assume that all employees possess the positive attitudes and motivations needed for business success. Quite simply, all workers do not have the same outlook regarding their jobs and the business as do the owners and managers.

To grasp this reality, contemplate the role of labor unions in business history. A union considers the well being of the business only if the firm’s survival is in immediate jeopardy. Just take a look at the troubles of unionized auto manufacturers. The objective of labor unions is to maximize compensation for union members, while minimizing the amount of work needed to earn such compensation. While labor unions are nearly inconsequential in the private sector today – in 2010, only 6.9 percent of private sector workers were union members, compared to 24.2 percent in 1973, for example, according to – labor union leanings or thinking among certain workers certainly has not completely evaporated.

Management must evaluate each employee, and gauge just how much oversight is required. This assessment is necessary not just to maintain or boost the productivity of a particular worker, but also to make sure that such an individual does not negatively affect other staff. After all, it is not necessary to take over and barricade the workplace to undermine management and a business. Indeed, undermining owners or managers is accomplished far more subtly, through complaining at desks or around the water cooler, for example. If left unchecked, those negatives can serve as a drain on an entire department or business.

Indeed, when employees go so far as to actively show that they have no real interest in work or the business, quick and decisive action by management is required. Otherwise, again, the department or business will suffer. Initial actions taken hopefully will be corrective, guiding the worker back on the right track. But if problems continue, then there must be increasingly severe responses, ranging from reprimands to suspensions to, if necessary, firing the worker.