Building Teamwork with NBC’s ‘Community’: What the Characters Teach You About Staff Personalities

NBC’s Community is an excellent TV show that for two years has been snubbed in Emmy nominations, critical acclaim, and until now, the QLP blog. However, my soapbox about this consistently funny, introspectively meta, and amazingly brilliant show will have to wait for another day. Today we’ll focus on the dynamics of everyone’s (and it should literally be everyone’s) favorite study group and how you can use them to streamline teamwork in your business or organization!

Jeff Winger: Smooth Talker Extraordinaire

The Jeff Winger

The Good: A smooth talker, this employee can make anything sound good. His charisma and charm is infectious, and you can’t help but agree with everything he says.

The Bad: He doesn’t really care about company projects, just himself. He’s there to do the bare minimum and collect his paycheck.

The Fix: Explain to that employee exactly how the latest product or promotion affects him. Also have him give presentations or handle PR disasters.

Britta Perry: All Work, No Play

The Britta Perry

The Good: This employee is always serious about the project at hand. She does her best to keep the group focused.

The Bad: She can be negative past the point of a worst case scenario. It’s likely that she will upset the balance of the group with said negativity.

The Fix: Ask this employee specific questions to bring out focused answers. If she offers negative scenarios, challenge her by suggesting she develop solutions to those possible outcomes.

Abed Nadir: Non-stop Talking Dictionary

The Abed Nadir

The Good: If you need to remember a ton of facts, this is the employee that will. He is full of information and can produce it at the drop of a hat.

The Bad: He is so eager to share what he knows that he won’t stop contributing. His conversation topics might deviate from the project at hand.

The Fix: Explain that group meetings might not be the best time to lose focus. If the employee really believes that he has something worthwhile to add, ask him to send you an e-mail or meet with you privately.

Annie Edison: Doe-eyed Control Freak

The Annie Edison

The Good: She is always prepared, always motivated, and always willing to take on more work. The lifeline of the group, this employee will pick up the slack of less-motivated group members.

The Bad: Your other employees could notice this and start to pawn off their work on her, causing her to become overwhelmed. She also might decide to try and completely take over the project.

The Fix: Delegate a work-intensive part of the project to this employee. She’ll feel value and accomplishment when finished, but stay busy enough that nobody can take advantage of her can-do attitude.

Troy Barnes: Loyal But Lacking

The Troy Barnes

The Good: An employee with unending loyalty will stick to the project at all costs. His general enthusiasm will motivate everyone else in the group.

The Bad: This employee’s lack of experience could hold up the group’s progress. His excess of questions would detract from the ultimate goal.

The Fix: Spend one-on-one time with this employee to bring them up to speed in any knowledge they are lacking. Ask if they have any innovative marketing or social media ideas.

Shirley Bennett: Passive Peacemaker

The Shirley Bennett

The Good: This peacemaker employee will keep the group calm and amicable. Her excellent mediation skill will put out many of your group’s fires.

The Bad: While good at getting others to talk, she might be passive about vocalizing her own needs and create some underlying tension.

The Fix: Communicate to her that your door is always open. Also help her convey her opinions and feelings to the rest of the group.

Pierce Hawthorne: Tweets? Circles? What is this madness?

The Pierce Hawthorne

The Good: A fountain of wisdom, this employee has tons of experience under his belt, and the other group members can learn from him.

The Bad: This employee is removed from the current generation. He will potentially have problems communicating with younger members of the group and take longer to support new marketing techniques.

The Fix: Have younger group members (like an Annie or Troy) take some time to explain social media and current marketing trends. Also let him offer older, but still effective, marketing strategies.

Do you watch NBC’s Community? Any other strategies we can learn from Greendale’s premier study group? Do you fit into any of the categories?


Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on


  1. Eric

    +5 for use of Joel McHale in a post.

  2. Jen

    I love Community! I would say I’m a Shirley, I don’t like confrontation and keep the peace whenever possible. Shirley is usually the rational person who can keep a sticky situation under control, and give good direction and advice.

    Great post Mandy! I can’t wait for the new season to start. 🙂

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Every group needs a Shirley! A peaceful group is (ideally) a productive group!

      I also can’t wait for the new season. 🙂

  3. Jenna Markowski


    I think that I am an Abed…but also a little bit of Britta. Some sort of Abed/Britta hybrid, if you will.

    I love this post. Great job, Mandy! 😀

  4. Jill Tooley

    I’d say I’m a cross between Annie and Shirley, with just a pinch of Britta. Who do we know in the office that’s most like Jeff, Troy, or Pierce? No one has mentioned them yet, and there has to be someone who matches them well. Hmmm.

    Mandy, you did an amazing job of summing up all of the characters’ personalities and relating them back to the workplace. I especially like your “Fix” section for each of them. It’s good to know what needs to be done to improve! 🙂

    I’m going to add this show to my Netflix queue right now. Must…watch…more! Two episodes (completely out of order) just isn’t enough.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I imagine some of lot in 724 are very charismatic and charming!

    • Jana Quinn

      Which two episodes, Jill?

      • Jill Tooley

        I’ve seen the one with the paintball war and the one with a giant, elaborate fort that took over a large amount of the campus. Both were hilarious, but I’m sure I would have found them even more hilarious if I’d seen the show from the beginning!

  5. Amy Swanson

    Best. post. EVER!! I can’t wait for the new season to start back up in a few weeks 😀

    I think I’m an ‘Annie’ and ‘Shirley’ mixture with being motivated and the peacekeeper. However, some days I feel like ‘Troy’ with my constant questions. But, that’s how you learn and become a ‘Pierce’ someday with tons of experience 🙂

    Amazing post Mandy!!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I know! September 22nd is so close, and yet so far…

      And hey, it’s better to be a Troy and ask questions than be a Jeff and not care! But that’s my opinion.

  6. Amanda

    I’ve never seen this show, and I like this post Mandy, awesome job! From what I’m reading, I think I’m a Annie, Troy, and Shirley mix.

    I hope to catch some episodes of Community this season–it sounds like a show I’d enjoy.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Community was a show that I didn’t know much about, but programmed my DVR to record anyway. And it totally paid off!! It hasn’t gotten a lot of publicity because it premiered the same season as Glee and Modern Family, so those shows kept getting the “Best New Comedy” praise instead.

      And I hope that you do like it!

  7. Rachel

    Hmmm… I’d probably say I’m a cross between Annie, Shirley, and Britta. I’ll have to start watching the show to see how much like them I really am. 🙂 I think I’ll pick it up when season 3 starts, even though I haven’t seen the earlier seasons … a marathon will have to happen at some point, methinks!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Excellent. My long term goal of getting everyone in the office to watch Community is coming to fruition.

  8. Joseph Giorgi

    Amazingly accurate post, Mandy! As far as group dynamics go, I’d say your analysis of each member is spot-on. I started watching Community on a whim and I’ve been hooked ever since. (Side note: the trampoline episode is one of my favorites.)

    When it comes to teamwork skills, I suppose I’d be a combination of Pierce and Troy — as odd as that sounds.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      The trampoline episode is excellent. I don’t like zombies, but the Halloween episode from the second season is one of my favorites.

      And hooray! We found our Pierce! So from what I’ve gathered, we have at least one person that represents every member of the Greendale study group in our blogsquad. I guess we just mix a little better and actually accomplish things. 🙂

  9. Jana Quinn

    I’m a mix of Abed and Annie, to be sure. I absolutely love this show, because there’s not a single weak link in the entire cast – just like a great company.

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