Dwight K. Schrute’s Top 10 Tips for Work Ethic (and World Domination)
“How would I describe myself? Three words: hard working, alpha male, jackhammer…merciless…insatiable…” –Dwight K. Schrute
Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that The Office’s Dwight Schrute (played by Rainn Wilson) is a big time workaholic. He’d stay late to finish invoicing, drive to a different state to turn in last-minute paperwork, or forgo bathroom breaks to maximize his productivity while on the clock. At least, he would have in the days of Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin management (I’m not so sure he’d replicate that enthusiasm for the newest manager, Andy Bernard). At any rate, we have a lot to learn from one of the most popular characters on one of the best TV shows of all time!
So what can we learn about work ethic from Dwight Kurt Schrute?
Put in the time. Dwight is rarely late, and he shows up ready to start working. He’s not opposed to working longer hours if his position calls for it, even if that means reallocating his time between Dunder Mifflin and Schrute Farms to make it work.
What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Don’t put in copious amounts of time that affect your life outside of work. It’s all about balance and knowing your limits.
Support your boss. When Michael Scott managed the Scranton branch, Dwight didn’t think twice about sticking by his leader. He followed protocol and made it clear to Michael that he was a good “number two,” also known as the Assistant (to the) Regional Manager.
What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Use caution when supporting decisions you oppose. Listen to what your boss says, but don’t blindly follow orders if morality comes into question. Use your best judgment!
Love your company. Dwight cares about Dunder Mifflin; he’s intensely loyal and he would do almost anything to better it. His enthusiasm particularly shows through when he purchases the office building in one of the later seasons and spends time fixing it up.
What he could do better/How you can improve on this: There’s a big difference between loving your company and letting it rule your life. Take a breather once in a while and enjoy yourself, otherwise you’ll burn out.
Be passionate about your product. There’s a reason Dwight was voted the top paper salesman on several occasions – he stands behind his company’s products and sells the crap out of anything. When Sabre bought Dunder Mifflin (6th season) and introduced printers into the inventory, he found a way to show the value to his customers.
What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Don’t sell a product you don’t fully believe in. It’s all or nothing on this one, because fake enthusiasm is obvious to others.
Keep your space tidy for maximum productivity. Dwight hates clutter and isn’t shy about pushing his deskmate’s (Jim) spillover back where it belongs. He’s always organized, from his desk drawers to his perfectly-lined-up bobbleheads.
What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Sometimes, clutter stacks up and you can’t get to it right away. Learn to harness productivity whether or not everything’s in mint condition.
Act quickly. When Roy tried to attack Jim (3rd season), Dwight was the first to act. When there was a threat of drugs in the office, he shot into action to find the culprit. No one could ever accuse him of twiddling his thumbs when there’s work to be done!
What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Keep genuine issues separated from pointless distractions – not every office crisis is worthy of dedicating an entire day to.
Engage in friendly competition. Competition makes any sales person stronger as long as it’s in good fun, and Dwight Schrute seems to have a blast doing it. And let’s not forget that he once competed against the Dunder Mifflin website for customer sales – and won.
What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Competitiveness is dangerous when taken to the extreme (and/or if it’s not work related like his ongoing banter with Jim). Keep rivalries to a minimum by respecting your team during contests.
Know co-workers’ strengths and weaknesses. Dwight understands which team members get the job done and which ones flit away the time, and he chooses his team carefully when he has the chance to delegate.
What he could do better/How you can improve on this: It’s a positive to know your team’s pros and cons, but it’s a negative to exploit them by calling them out in front of a large crowd. Everyone is good at something, so find each person’s strong point and you’ll spell success.
Get your hands dirty. Since he runs a beet farm in his “spare time,” it’s only natural that he would excel at dirty jobs that others pass on. Michael Scott knew that Dwight would take care of those odd jobs that needed doing, like digging in to select a new health insurance plan (season 2) or cracking down harder on office policies.
What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Dwight is typically willing to jump into any project head first, especially ones that would give him power around the office. This demonstrates responsibility and willingness, but it can also put you at risk with corporate AND portray you as a doormat. Avoid becoming a yes man (or woman) by thinking ahead and by respectfully declining projects you’re not qualified to do.
Be confident and never, EVER, give up. Dwight oozes confidence when he speaks to clients and other employees. He knows he’s hard working and capable, and why shouldn’t he show it? Confidence is a big part of a job, especially in sales, because it tends to drive results. Also, it’s nearly impossible to sway him from an idea or task if he sets his mind on it. Dwight never gives up!
What he could do better/How you can improve on this: Being confident is one thing, but being overly so is quite another. Keep your confidence grounded or others may view it as boastful, obnoxious, and rude! And as far as the giving up goes…Dwight’s always been a poster boy for persistence, and he does it well. Follow his lead and you’ll succeed.
Dwight has his quirks, sure. But he’s also a loyal employee with the drive of a monster truck and the sheer focus of an owl who’s just spotted his prey. I’d say we could all learn a thing or two from this loveable-yet-frustrating paper salesman, and any employer would benefit from hiring outstanding employees like him (only if you’re willing to put in the time to train them correctly).
Who knows — if you work extra hard, you may even have a bobblehead version of yourself on your desk someday:
Oh, and one more thing: Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.
What do you think of Dwight’s determination? Do you agree that his work ethic is generally admirable, even if his office antics otherwise aren’t? Do you love “The Office”? Want to see some “best of Dwight” moments and reminisce? Anything else to add?
Image credit to gordasm and Jill Tooley.