What you studied at school and university doesn’t prepare you for working life because it doesn’t take human nature, politics and how organisations really work into account.
These are the kinds of things you need to know to survive in a job, whether it’s in the government public sector or a private company or actively participating in a political party:
- Senior managers rarely create a committee or hire consultants without making it clear beforehand what they expect the final report should recommend
- If you look at rows of people sitting in cubicles at computers it’s very hard to differentiate between people who are doing useful work and those who are wasting time. Being busy and active doesn’t necessarily mean a worker is really efficient or doing something actually useful.
- People are often promoted 1 level higher than their skills and experience can handle (Peter Principle)
- Some Managers may concentrate on managing up to please their boss rather than getting things done in their department
- Meetings are often of little value yet some people love them because meetings fill up a schedule so they look busy. Next time you’re in a meeting that seems pointless, consider how much each person in the room gets paid per hour and add all that cost up. If the meeting costs much more than any value gained from it, it shouldn’t have been held at all.
What you need is the knowledge of how to deal with these situations to avoid headaches and frustration. This is what I recommend you do – watch all the TV series below and carefully take mental notes about what happens and how you can use the lessons learnt to your benefit in real life.
Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister are comedy series broadcast by the BBC in the 1980’s following the career of fictional member of Parliament Jim Hacker (played by the late Paul Eddington).
In Yes Minister, the naive Hacker joins the cabinet as a Minister for Administrative Affairs after his party wins the election.
The series shows how he slowly learns about the realities of politics and trying (usually failing) to make his Permanent Secretary Humphrey Appleby implement his ideas and party policies.
In the video clip below, Sir Humphrey educates the idealistic Bernard in how to take minutes from a meeting and get what you want.
Buy the The Complete Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister to watch and enjoy at home.
Better Off Ted is a dark satirical comedy which follows the bizarre life of Ted Crisp, head of an R&D department at Veridian Dynamics, a soulless amoral multinational corporation whose company motto is “Money before People.”
The employees of Veridian Dynamics struggle to deal with the knowledge that their company achieves its goals of creating scientific solutions to problems without any sense of ethics such as:
- cryogenically freezing an employee just to see what would happen
- denying that it’s motion sensors don’t detect black people
- trying to match employees romantically based on their genetic compatibility to create the perfect future employee.
Buy Better Off Ted Series 1 to watch and enjoy at home.
The Games charts the progress of the fictitious Logistics and Liaison Division of Sydney Organising Committee For The Olympic Games (SOCOG) in the run-up to the Sydney Olympics in mockumentary style by documenting the exploits of 4 members of The Games Management Team.
Watching The Games will teach you about:
- Ministerial incompetence
- How big event organisers and government agencies really work behind the scenes
- Private sector corruption when building infrastructure
- Ways bureaucratic stuff ups are covered up
- Methods to protect yourself and shift unfair blame at public inquiries
Buy The Games: Series 1 to watch and enjoy at home.
For over 25 years John Clarke and Bryan Dawe have broadcast a satirical weekly interview in which prominent figures speak about matters of public importance.
John pretends to be someone being interrogated and Bryan is an interviewer behaving with grace under pressure. The lines are delivered by both men in a straight manner and the dialogue is comedy gold.
In the famous Clarke & Dawe video below, John plays the part of a politician discussing an oil spill.
Buy The Almost Definitive Clarke and Dawe Collection to watch and enjoy at home.
Dilbert, the bespectacled potato-shaped engineer with the upwardly mobile tie, is the poster boy for the disenfranchised worker.
Slaving away day after day in his cubicle at the soul-sucking “Path-E-Tech” corporation and never recognized for his contributions, the muted frustration of his constant run-ins with his clueless boss and complacent co-workers are surpassed only by the schemes that his super-intelligent dog, Dogbert, continually involves him in.
Developed and produced by Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Larry Charles, the series follows Dilbert as he copes with daily life and his job as an engineer with episodes covering topics familiar to many workers including: naming products, the security guard, mergers, off-site meetings, takeovers and the lack of corporate ethics.
Buy The Dilbert Complete Series to watch and enjoy at home.
Daniel Stern stars as the voice of Dilbert, while Chris Elliott voices his evil housemate Dogbert, who views the entire world as existing for his personal entertainment but still finds time in his schedule of world domination to regularly rescue Dilbert from the trouble he gets into with his well-meaning schemes to “make the world a better place”.