How to profit from dif­fer­ence Re­al­ity TV sur­vival lessons show how to dis­card stereo­types and mo­ti­vate your staff

The Australian - The Deal - - News - Ver­ity Ed­wards is edi­tor The Week­end Aus­tralian’s Week­end Pro­fes­sional

Ver­ity Ed­wards on learn­ing the of­fice lessons from TV's Sur­vivor

EV­ERY of­fice build­ing in ev­ery city is made leader, the gen-Y worker, the am­bi­tious pup, the over-achiev­ing mother, the cy­cling mamil (mid­dle-aged man in Ly­cra), the jaded long-term em­ployee bid­ing his time.

Stereo­types, yes, but it is in­ter­est­ing to watch how they re­late, whether they are com­pat­i­ble, and how they per­form, or do more than their al­lo­cated jobs and mo­ti­vate oth­ers.

The 30th sea­son of re­al­ity tele­vi­sion se­ries Sur­vivor: Worlds Apart is show­ing on Go! It is about how dif­fer­ent work­place stereo­types get along, given it pits white-col­lar work­ers against blue-col­lar work­ers. Both tribes have gone up against no-col­lar work­ers and free­think­ing hip­pies who sell co­conuts.

Sur­vivor is vanilla voyeurism; it is about watch­ing re­la­tion­ships fes­ter or flour­ish. This time it takes peo­ple out of their work­ing en­vi­ron­ments and puts them in a jun­gle to battle it out for $US1 mil­lion through a se­ries of chal­lenges and cut-throat tribal coun­cils.

Some of the chal­lenges have shown that those thought un­likely to be phys­i­cal, the white-col­lar work­ers, have been highly mo­ti­vated and tri­umphed against fit­ter blue-col­lar work­ers. It has shown blue-col­lar work­ers can excel at puzzles and lat­eral think­ing. And it has demon­strated no-col­lar work­ers can be cun­ning and ruth­less.

The se­ries shows stereo­types can be mis­lead­ing, par­tic­u­larly in the of­fice en­vi­ron­ment. And it shows that ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tions do not make for nicer peo­ple, or smarter and strate­gic work­ers. Those who progress are the ones who get along with ev­ery­one and are strong but not threat­en­ing. The gen-Y worker can be highly mo­ti­vated and par­tic­u­larly goal-ori­ented, buck­ing the im­age that they show up, do the hours and go home at 5.01pm. The jaded em­ployee might be a bit lazy, but might have much to of­fer as a men­tor. The over-achiev­ing mother could prob­a­bly learn to say no to some tasks rather than try­ing to be a su­per­woman.

Man­agers could learn from Sur­vivor's so­cial ex­per­i­ments by ask­ing what mo­ti­vates peo­ple and re­fus­ing to ac­cept stereo­types. It could also teach them how to get the most out their work­ers by ig­nor­ing those per­cep­tions.

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