The Office Space Immutable Rules of Business Management

Red swingline stapler

Red swingline stapler


You’ve read the articles, you’ve seen the results, and yet somehow, the message never gets through to the managers. Somewhere along the way, they skipped a step and tried to rewrite the rules. Some rules are made to be broken, but these are almost immutable rules. The kind that if you break them, they end up breaking you.

As you manage your employees, is this you?

In your small business, how do you lead your people? Do your employees take initiative, take responsibility, work harder when necessary without being asked, come up with efficiencies on their own, spearhead creative new projects without being prodded, clean out the coffee pot without need for that stupid sign in the kitchen that says “Your mother does not work here.” No? Hmmm.

No? Well perhaps you lead your people in this way

You dictate everything, you have to lean on each employee to get things done, you figure ‘if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.‘ Employees grumble, you often find them not doing anything, and frankly, they piss you off. If this is you, you probably don’t have any idea that there is any other way. You want to skip the one immutable rule of business management.

So what is this immutable rules of business management? If you lead people by threats and intimidation, you will never, ever succeed on the scale of those who have gone before you and led wildly successful small businesses.

There are only two styles of management

No more, no less. If your thesis from your MBA program at the Wharton School of Business, or at top-10 ranked Georgia State University argued otherwise, sorry, you are wrong. Two and only two.

  1. You can manage by threats and intimidation
  2. You can manage by inspiring people
Good to Great, Jim Collins

Good to Great by Jim Collins


In his ground-breaking book, Good to Great, Jim Collins reveals this stunning philosophy. Most business managers today only know how to rule by threats and intimidation. They delegate, they monitor, they bluster, they constantly assign mundane, valueless tasks. They have no idea what inspiration-management is all about because they are too busy making sure everyone is as busy as possible.

The greatest companies of the last fifty years have had leaders who were not jerks. Instead, these leaders empowered workers, inspired them, complimented them, granted them freedoms to create something new and exciting. They created a culture where innovation is rewarded and encouraged.

What is the result?

Employees start to want to come to work. They love this. They are recognized, no one yells at them, no one storms around the office demanding anything. Employees are asked for their opinions. Their opinions are noted and taken into consideration. They are asked for their ideas.

“How would you make this product better?”
“What would you do to make this process easier and more efficient?”
“If you were the manager, what would you do in this situation?”

They are rewarded, and as such, they reward you.

I have eight different bosses right now, Bob

And lest not forget these words of wisdom from one of  the most well watched business movies of our generation, Office Space. There are words of wisdom here:

Peter:   And here’s something else, Bob: I have eight different bosses right now.
Bob:   I beg your pardon?
Peter:   Eight bosses.
Bob:   Eight?
Peter:   Eight, Bob. So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.

Starting to get the point? Ready to start leading by inspiring people instead of yelling at them? Tell us in the comments.

About Nate Goodman

Nathan Goodman is the bestselling author of The Special Agent Jana Baker Spy-Thriller Series. "A terrorist on the loose, a country in panic, and time is running out..." For a free copy visit the author's website. He's also a freelance writer and entrepreneur.