Career Lessons from TV

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Lesson from “Warehouse 13”- Play Nice (At Work)

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It’s natural to have disagreements in the workplace, but when disagreements on business matters escalate into interpersonal conflict, it’s time to put a kibosh on it.

The latest episode of “Warehouse 13” provides a light-hearted take on the matter. When their last mission to recover an artifact in Paris runs into some complications, Agents Lattimer and Bering chalk it up to a lack of defined leadership. When they each go to their boss Artie Nielson (played Saul Rubinek) asking that they be put in charge in the field, Artie has a devious (but humorous) way of resolving they issue. He tells each one that they’re “in charge” but instructs them to treat their partner as if they’re in charge (because they’re “sensitive”). While their work styles are to blame for their spats and bickering(Lattimer is instinctive, Bering is observant, logical), they’re different approaches ultimately help to complete each mission they’re given.  It reminded me of how important it was to get along with your coworkers on an interpersonal level.

Joanne Kelly and Eddie McClintock in Warehouse 13

Joanne Kelly and Eddie McClintock in Warehouse 13

It’s Not You, It’s The Problem Itself

In “Magnetism”, the show puts a big highlighter on workplace conflict. After the Paris mission, Lattimer and Bering are sent to Unionville,  Colorado to investigate strange, unexplained behavior that is suspected to be the result of a supernatural artifact. Eventually, Bering succumbs to the strange behavior herself, inexplicably hitting Lattimer in the face repeatedly(it’s funnier when you watch it). They soon discover that the behavior is the involuntary expression of subsconcious thoughts and desires, caused by sitting in a chair which belong to James Braid, the father of hypnotherapy. The springs in the chair, along with the voice of the town priest, a descendant of Braid, caused Bering to act out her desire to punch Lattimer in the face(because he pisses her off). While they really do get on each other’s nerves, there’s still a mutual trust and respect. Lattimer convinces her to keep working the case, even when Bering pleads to stay in the town jail to protect Lattimer and the mission.  While completing their mission, they discover Artie’s deception and at the very end, play a joke on him “together” by feigning they blew up his car.

If you’re fortunate to be working, I don’t have to tell you bickering is part of the job, but in spite of it, you should still have some trust and respect for your coworkers, as Agents Lattimer and Bering do. If it goes beyond business and becomes personal, it may take a team leader sensitive to team dynamics to resolve the conflict, which Cheri Swales writes in “Overcome Team Conflict“. Swales outlines a set of strategies that defuses interpersonal conflict to include focusing on the problem, not blame others, openly communicating(with respect) and considering different points of view on the problem. Swales also suggest setting ground rules and celebrating as a team to improve cooperation.

As For Me…

While I’m not in the position to bicker with coworkers, I’ve had my share of disagreements. Without trashing anyone or any company, I know in a lot of cases it wasn’t them, but what the company or business may be going through that put people in challenging positions. While I know I’ve done my best to work through any issues I’ve had, I know not every conflict can be amicably resolved. Sometimes you do have to walk away from the department, or that company all together, but I suggest you jump off that bridge when you come to it.

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Written by Reginald Bautista

July 22, 2009 at 5:40 pm