Why Lumberg? Beause Lumberg is the archetype of all badass bosses.
He is one of my favourite character of the whole movie. Lumberg is the kind of boss taking care of all the details of the office and on top like torturing his employees with an incomparable style. He’s dress top of the style (ok Milenneals, in the 2000 he meant to be elegent with rayon shirt, silk tie and suspenders.) Notice that he is never wearing a suit, and allows the employees to wear Hawaian shirt and jeans on Friday. He walks around his office (his territorium) with his cofee mug (in 2018 it would be a water bottle with lemon) and checking how things are going.
Lumberg has no problem to walk to Peter EOD Friday to ask to come in on Saturday. (and Sunday, too).. From the movie we do not see any of his managerial skills or any special knowledge presdestinate him to be a leader.
His key priority is to make more office space – under this project Milton has to move his desk several times. Though from his style at first look you’d think that he is talking so slowly, as inside he is grinding gears of big corporate issues.
Articulation is a mix of a high-class and well educated yuppie and an idiot. This makes the character really funny.
My favourite quotes from the film are also linked to him:
– That’d be greeeaat….
They represent a typical bossy attitude, employees has to translate.
1.) “That’d be greeeeaat” is nothing else than a request targeting the employee and accepting no objections.
2.) “What’s happening” is the regular form fom Lundberg to make contacts, breaking the ice (you have any collegue starting conversations like “and how is business going?) He is not expecting any answer.
3.) “Hmmmm, yeeeahh” is actually disguises objection and gives him time to think what to say next.
What can we learn from Lumberg? Does he make any role model in any way? How to handle such an irritating fellow as a manager?
We should be taking the example of Peter first, who does not manage very well at first.
Unfortunately Office Space shows the only alternative of reaction which is not tolerable at any corporate environment – Peter is just stop working on purpose and he is not afraid to act like he does not care any more.
This bevaviour is suicidal in real life and will bring you to HR’s office very soon. (Though, depending on your organisation, might take some months until somebody realizes that you are actally not working! )
So what’s the cure for handling managers like Lumberg?
From a practical standpoint you do not need to confirm his position, you can politely can express your own opition on TPS reports. Fully accepting extra hours without complaint probably will put you in the good employee box at him, but does not bring you promotion.
Here are my five points how you can handle the Lumberg types at your office (space):
1.) Show interest and apprehension when he speaks and don’t interrupt him: Lumberg wants to believe he is in control: let him dream about it.
2.) If you forgot the TPS reports (e.g. made a mistake), you should admit and offer solution well before you expect him realize and put you down
3.) If you feel like, you can tell him that the problem is not with you, beacause you are not challanged to be motivated (you should have some corporate advisors for spare to support you on this, just in case…)
4.) Be prepared to present your work and contribution to the corporate or team goals (facts vs. bullshitting)
5.) Be prepared to have an strong excuse if he’s asking you to come in for Saturday. But note that volunteerism will bring you more reward than excuses.