Homer Simpson’s work-life wisdom?! Yep. Learn from it

What manager wouldn’t want a loveable, huggable, truth-spewing, bumbling, incompetent, lazy employee like Homer Simpson?

In reality, Homer is in your cubicles, on your shop floor, driving your delivery trucks, waiting on customers, and yes, in the interview room. Want him or not.

Homer’s a composite of the personalities of your workforce, and his words are often your employees’ thoughts:

“No, no, no, Lisa. If adults don’t like their jobs, they don’t go on strike. They just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American Way.”

This plays itself out more than you’d like to think. No shop steward. No picket lines. No union dues. Just a bunch of workers basking in mediocrity, both in pay and output, daydreaming of something better. Don’t you sometimes?

“I want to share something with you: The three little sentences that will get you through life. Number 1: Cover for me. Number 2: Oh, good idea, Boss! Number 3: It was like that when I got here.”

Work-dodging, brown-nosing and buck-passing. It wouldn’t be a workplace without them.

“I think Smithers picked me because of my motivational skills. Everyone says they have to work a lot harder when I’m around.”

Every once in a while, an employee thinks he’s productive, efficient or a catalyst in the success of something larger. Sometimes he’s not, to the detriment of others. If his heart is in the right place, he might be worth salvaging. That’s part of your job.

“You heard me, I won”t be in for the rest of the week. … I told you! My baby beat me up! … No, it is not the worst excuse I ever thought up.”

What would you say to an employee who told you, “Boss, I just don’t feeling like working today. I won’t be in”? Somehow, honesty is not the best policy in all cases. Enjoy the excuses.

“If something goes wrong at the plant, blame the guy who can’t speak English.”

There is no shortage of blame-tossing in any workplace. If it’s not aimed at the person who’s at a disadvantage because of a language barrier, it’s certainly used against the person who either is unaware he’s blamed or can’t do much about it. Just make sure it’s not you hunting for a scapegoat.

Marge: Homer, the plant called. They said if you don’t show up tomorrow, don’t bother showing up on Monday.
Homer: Woo-hoo! Four-day weekend!

An employee muddling through his day in blissful ignorance. Every workplace has one. Or two. Do you really have the heart to fire them?

“I have to work overtime at work instead of spending time with my wife and kids, which is what I want.”

Your employees have a life. Something to think about a little more often.

“To be loved, you have to be nice to others EVERYDAY! To be hated, you don’t have to do squat.” ( advice to Mr. Burns )

Advice to all bosses.


Cal Butera is the editor of Business Management Daily’s Office Manager Today, Manager’s Legal Bulletin, Managing People at Work and Communication Briefings newsletters. He has been with Business Management Daily since 2007 and worked 22 years for midsize daily newspapers as sports writer, news reporter, layout and design editor, copy editor and city editor.