Watching TV May Not Make You Smarter, But It Can Make You Better At Your Job!

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I am not a cold weather person, so I pass the winter months by doing a lot of binge watching. This winter I was on a big BBC kick, and a few series left me with more substantial takeaways than just their pure entertainment value. They’ve also inspired some interesting insights into honest communication, strategies for productive meetings, and beneficial management practices.

In this series of posts, I’m going to share some great show recommendations, accompanied by tips for how these shows can help you solve some of your workplace’s most pressing problems, all from the comfort of your own couch. This post is an overview of the shows and the lessons they provide: the next 3 posts will include a deeper look into each show with a viewing guide of what to look out for and how to apply these observations so you can #dogoodworkbetter.

So get the popcorn ready, fire up Netflix, and prepare for some professional development!

BBC Binge Recommendation #1: The Great British Baking Show

This reality show is first and foremost a display of humanity at its best: people being creative and industrious, seeking to not only demonstrate their skills and passions for baking, but to learn, grow, and make friends while doing it. While watching this show has certainly inspired me to push my limits in the kitchen (including a 2-hour internet research session into the different kinds of merengue), it also showcases one of the most fundamental, yet elusive, workplace communications skills: giving and receiving constructive criticism.

BBC Binge Recommendation #2: W1a

This hilarious workplace comedy pokes fun at myriad ineptitudes in the upper ranks of the BBC bureaucracy. The cast of characters includes endless examples of the most frustrating types of people in the workplace, the perils of being a top-heavy organization, and the unintentional consequences of poorly-executed good intentions. The most cringe-worthy scenes in each episode are often when these characters assemble for high-level planning or crisis management meetings, but often leave the meeting with even less of an understanding than they had going in. These counterproductive meetings make the case for why it’s important to set clear expectations for each meeting and ensure that roles are established and unambiguous.

BBC Binge Recommendation #3: The IT Crowd

Another office-based comedy, but this time focusing on the other end of the employee spectrum: the service providers. Buried in the basement (literally) of a nondescript, dysfunctional corporation is the IT department, made up of two socially awkward but well-meaning computer experts who have been demoralized after years of being treated like afterthoughts. It is sadly common that the internal technical and operational experts go underappreciated, despite the critical support services they provide to make sure the rest of the company can function seamlessly. As you grow to love these two computer-loving goofballs, you can’t help but think about the potential they could offer to an employer who valued their contributions.

I hope this inspires you to check out a new show, and stay tuned for more detailed viewing guides for each of these BBC gems. Cheerio!

Photos of show cards are screenshots and fall under Fair Use.
Special thanks to Daven Ralston for graphic designs for this series.