Career Lessons from TV

Because TV Doesn't Really Rot Your Brain

Archive for the ‘Workplace’ Category

Letterman’s 800 lbs. Gorilla in the “Dollhouse”

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Adelle and Victor have an improper affair on "Dollhouse"

Adelle and Victor have an improper affair on "Dollhouse"

I really don’t like writing about scandal, but the 800 lbs. gorilla brought into the room by David Letterman’s criminal case really makes it hard to ignore. While I’m still a fan, the indiscreet activities divulged in his case have brought up once again the subject of sexual relations in the workplace. It was also addressed in an episode of the “Dollhouse”, where its chief Adelle had some indiscretions of her own.

For the non-watchers, “Dollhouse” is about a powerful organization which underground activities include pimping out men and women whose personalities have been wiped and replaced with personalities and skills “made to order” for each client. Personalities include the obvious “professional escorts” to kidnapping negotiator (yeah, sounds so wrong on so many levels, but you still wanna find out what happens next). In ” A Spy in the House of Love”, we learn that the Dollhouse chief executive Adelle (played by Olivia Williams) has appropriated one of her “dolls” (in-house term is “active”) for her own personal use. Under the guise of a fake client, she has Victor (played by Enver Gjokaj) programmed to be her perfect romantic partner. By the end of the episode even the chief of a futuristic whorehouse thinks its wrong (even though he knows nothing about it), and ends the affair.

Power and Sex are a Bad Mix (at least for one) in the Workplace

As I’ve written before, there are risks as well as benefits to romance at the office, but when it involves superiors and their subordinates, it’s gets more risky than beneficial. Aside from extortion which is unfortunately Letterman’s case, you’re at least running the risk of perceived favoritism, because you really can’t keep a secret like that at work. I’m not even going to get into when one of them, either of them is married, or attached to someone else. You can read more on that in mainstream media. The point is, if you are a boss in your company, if you get involved with your employees, you’re playing with fire. Same thing applies going the other way. An imbalance of power, even in consensual relationships, makes it a toxic one. If you find yourself in one, you have 2 plays- quit, or if there’s illegal activities, step up and blow the whistle.

Got a story about workplace affairs? Share it here (don’t use real names though, not interested).

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Written by Reginald Bautista

October 4, 2009 at 12:41 am

“Warehouse 13”- “Married” to Your Co-Worker?

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Myka and Pete's close working relationship on "Warehouse 13"

Myka and Pete's close working relationship on "Warehouse 13"

In any workplace, it’s a nice to have a co-worker you can count on, even though appearances can be deceiving. It’s hard to dispute that what makes “Warehouse 13” entertaining is the “relationship” between Pete and Myka. While the sexual tension is amusing, it’s their professional and platonic relationship that can be beneficial, but misconstrued by others.

In “Nevermore“, Pete follows Myka as she visits her parents in light of a family emergency regarding her father (played by Michael Hogan). Turns out the family emergency involves an artifact and they spend the episode trying to neutralize it. During the episode, it’s apparent the bond between Pete and Myka grows stronger as a result of what she and her parents are going through. In larger terms, the workplace is a stressful environment and having a trusted partner and friend to help you deal is a huge help in my book.

What It Means to Have a “Work Spouse”

Call it what you will. Your best friend at work. Your best work buddy. Your actual “partner” at work. Having someone you can trust and work closely together can be beneficial to your work and career as whole. Careerbuilder.com helps to determine whether or not you have what they call a “work spouse” in “7 Signs You Have a Work Spouse“. The article also explores the risks and benefits of having one. It’s not surprising that the benefits and risks are similar to those for dating someone in the workplace, minus the sex part. The trust, teamwork and productivity are offset by other co-workers feeling excluded, the proximity to co-workers where your working relationships have gone sour, and jealousy of actual spouses.

Same Sex Work Spouse

I would add that the your work spouse doesn’t have to be of the opposite sex. I have contacts that outright call their business partners their “spouse” even though they’re of the same sex. I believe the same benefits and risks still apply though.

From my point-of-view it’s nice to have a “battle buddy” as those from the military would say. It can be tough dealing with anything alone. As with any relationship, it takes work to make it work, but it’s also important to be as above board and transparent as possible to any third parties, whomever they may be.

What’s your “work marriage” like? Post it here.

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Written by Reginald Bautista

September 16, 2009 at 4:38 pm

“Warehouse 13”- Co-Workers to Avoid at All Costs

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Quirky but non-toxic co-workers on "Warehouse 13"

Quirky but non-toxic co-workers on "Warehouse 13"

On “Warehouse 13”, everyone has their quirks to say the least. Pete is a manchild. Myka’s uptight. Artie keeps too many secrets (I still they’re all awesome, though). It’s inevitable that people are going to rub you the wrong way, whether they have a grudge against you, or it’s just how they role. In this post we’ll take a look at the kinds of co-workers to avoid, or at least minimize contact as much as possible.

In most cases, if someone at work is rubbing you the wrong way, chances are that’s are that’s how they role. They’ve gotten so far in their career putting goals before people, stepping on toes (and sometimes faces) is justified. “Just business” as they say. If they actually have  a grudge against you, it’s probably because they perceive you as threat to their careers and will do whatever it takes to ruin yours. While avoiding these folks is desirable, it’s pretty hard to do. Your only other options are:

1. Stand up for yourself (call them out on their games and don’t back down)

2. Find another job

Jonathan Littman has similar advice and writes about 10 other types of co-workers that damage your piece-of-mind and your career in “10 Least Wanted Co-Workers“.

Keep in mind a big factor that causes people to behave in inappropriate ways is the company itself and how well it may or may not be doing. If the work atmosphere is one of fear and fierce competition, you may find more than one co-worker that’ll threaten your job and career. Be careful.

What type of co-workers do you find torturing and career-threatening? Post it here.

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Written by Reginald Bautista

September 14, 2009 at 6:05 pm

“Royal Pains”- The Ground Rules of Flirting in the Workplace

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OK, so I’ve written a post on a similar subject in ” ‘Royal Pains’ – Dating In The Workplace” , but there’s a slightly different angle that’s also a staple of  the workplace and an admittedly  entertaining part of the TV show- flirting.

Mark Feuerstein and Jill Flint in "Royal Pains"

Mark Feuerstein and Jill Flint in "Royal Pains"

As I’ve said before, this one isn’t going to be something to help you ace your next interview, or get you that raise you’ve needed , like,  ‘forever’, but it’s something that’s part of the workplace environment that can do serious damage to your career if you’re not careful.  In “Nobody’s Perfect”, Jill’s (almost) ex-husband  Charlie (played by Bruno Campos),  doesn’t really want to make the divorce final, and in subtle and not-so-subtle ways flirts with her in an attempt to win her back. First a trip down memory lane, and then signing the divorce papers “Give me one more chance”. Complicates (but makes for good TV) things between Jill and Hank.

While it’s fun to watch workplace flirting and romance on TV, the twists and turns when they’re happening to you probably won’t be nearly as fun. While dating is common in a place you’re stuck 40 or more hours a week, flirting is even more so. Even though it isn’t as clearly defined as dating, there are still boundaries to respect and rules to follow if you don’t want to ruin your job. Mary Lorenz has some pointers, all the way through to relationship phase in “Is It OK to Flirt at Work?“. Highlights from what Lorenz writes is to keep it relatively clean (i.e. PG rated), develop good relationships with your cowokers first so they know where you’re coming from, pay attention to nonverbal feedback, and know your audience. If the two of you like to take it to the next level, Lorenz writes that you should both be upfront about intentions.

For me, flirting is like my sense of humor- I don’t mean to be, it just comes out that way. One rule I’ve always had is that I wouldn’t initiate flirting,  unless I knew the other person relatively well enough that they wouldn’t kick me in my man bits for doing so.  In the end,  I’d say it’s harmless, but unless you like sexual harrassment seminars, my advice is keep a leash on it, will ya?

Think flirting’s OK at work? Post your thoughts here.

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Written by Reginald Bautista

August 21, 2009 at 3:49 pm

When Clients Become “Royal Pains”

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If you’re in any business where you have to keep a client happy, you’re inevitably going to run into one that doesn’t know, or doesn’t care about boundaries. On the latest episode of “Royal Pains”, Hank faces one of his most difficult clients yet. Thankfully, unless you’re a concierge doctor, you won’t have to save your client’s life with the contents of someone’s purse. You just need to know the tricks to handling ‘that’ kind of customer.

In “Am I Blue?” Hank has to help a client’s father (played by Andrew McCarthy) overcome drug addiction. As patients go, drug addicts aren’t the favorites of health care professionals. They lie, cheat, and firmly believe there’s an easy way out. Even after Hank saves him from a crash treatment gone awry (which Hank refused to assist him in), He still manages to keep a stash on him until finally his son catches him and takes him to a drug treatment center himself.

While Hank had some help keeping his patient in line, all you may have to deal with an unruly client is some sage advice. Jun Loayza shares some pointers in “Dealing with a Needy Client“. As Loayza writes, it’s important to set expectations about what you’re delivering and how you deliver it. Loayza also writes that you should stand firm on your ground rules and if the client is beyond reason, re-evaluate whether or not that client is worth keeping.

Difficult Clients Problems Can be Solved (Or Not)

I’ve had my share of  ‘those’ clients myself. The way I see it, if you strip away the drama and the perception that the world is going to end, it’s just another problem to be solved. The problem I refer to is a matter of compromised trust. Whether you can repair that trust with clarifying the issue, escalating it to someone better paid to deal with it (if you’re the owner, consider making a referral to your competitor), or just listening, it all depends on the situation. Just remember that a business arrangement has to benefit all parties, or else it may be best to part ways.

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Written by Reginald Bautista

August 19, 2009 at 2:55 pm

“Warehouse 13”- Old School Vs. New School

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I need an old [geek] and a young [geek]… The power of [science] compels you! For the young’uns, that was a ripoff from “The Exorcist”. A recurring theme of “Warehouse 13” is valuing both old and new ideas, and ways of doing things in the workplace. The last episode was entirely dedicated to the concept.

Saul Rubinek and Allison Scagliotti in "Warehouse 13"

Saul Rubinek & Allison Scagliotti in "Warehouse 13"

In “Burnout”, Artie and Claudia (played by Allison Scagliotti) take different approaches to solving a case involving an artifact that burns people to a crisp. While Allison takes the holograms and hardware approach, Artie takes the pen/paper and hands-on approach. While both have their shortcomings, the point is that both have value.

Speaking from experience, the biggest mistake you can make in your career, or life in general is becoming “set in your ways”. Sure, there are values and beliefs you’ll take with you wherever you go, but if you’re trying to meet professional challenges with the same rigid mindset/approach, you may as well be doing house or car repair with just a hammer. The trick is to be open-minded and pragmatic. It’s a bad idea to dismiss ideas or perspectives outright just because they’re old. By the same token, you shouldn’t dismiss any new ideas just because they’re unproven. One should be looking at both approaches, gleaning value from both sides, and coming up with new ideas and perspectives that incorporate the best of both worlds.

The same is true when working with coworkers of differing ages. Whether you’re a young professional trying to prove your worth, or an seasoned vet trying to maintain your worth, you should be appreciating ideas/concepts that are either fresh or proven. Stubbornly holding on to an approach or perspective regardless of the circumstances may turn you into 1)  a TV news pundit or 2) Darth Vader.  Seriously, don’t go there!

So what’s your school? Old? New? Both? Post it here.

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Written by Reginald Bautista

August 12, 2009 at 2:55 pm

“Royal Pains”- Dating In The Workplace

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Honestly, I haven’t done this myself, but the last episode of “Royal Pains” takes a look at dating in the workplace.

Mark Feuerstein and Jill Flint in "Royal Pains"

Mark Feuerstein and Jill Flint in "Royal Pains"

It’s not exactly advice on how to get promoted, or how to avoid getting laid off, but if a workplace relationship goes south, it could affect how you perform your job, or how your workplace perceives you. In the last episode, Hank offers to take an an open ER position in Jill’s hospital. Given that their both romantically involved and Jill’s relationship with Hank has brought up questions at her workplace already, the proposition seems risky. Hank sees it as an opportunity to develop their relationship. In dramatic TV fashion, neither Jill or Hank have to risk the pitfalls of dating someone at work- Jill’s ex-husband Charlie takes the ER job and further complicates their relationship.

I’m not saying that dating in the workplace is always a bad thing. I would say it’s complicated, though. A Bizzywomen.com article on “Dating Women- Dating Women in the Workplace” outlines the pros and cons of dating someone in the workplace. Assuming your company policies on dating co-workers allows it, and there are no issues of favoritism because of position and status, the article states it can grease the wheels in developing relationships because of the familiarity and time spent together. It can also help the company as healthy relationships can increase productivity.

Again, dating in the workplace is complicated. When a workplace relationship doesn’t work out, the article states that it can be a problem seeing your ex everyday and having the whole office privy to how ugly the fallout was. Goes without saying your morale and productivity take a header.

In the end, it’s up to you to decide if the complications of workplace dating are worth the risk. It could turn out great, but if not, hearing “your breakup is TV material” is really NOT a compliment.

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Written by Reginald Bautista

August 10, 2009 at 8:49 pm