Workplace Lessons from Downton Abbey

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The show is back and millions of viewers are intrigued by the cast of characters and the issues confronted by all those in the Downton circle.   We are empathetic to the barrage of problems there.   At the same time we are consumed by critical issues we never thought of before.  Like, what is the proper pronunciation of the word “valet”?  (And, how do I get one?) Is it possible to polish silver too much?  If you don’t know how many rooms are in your house, is it too many?

Downton Abbey

Even though there will be big questions such as these that go unanswered, there are lessons to be learned from the work at Downton that even apply today.

1.  If the people doing the “real work” have a separate dining room and are treated differently, morale problems will develop.  There will always be talk about the “suits” in the “other” dining room.

2.  Employees always know what’s going on in the organization.  There are no secrets.

3.  Getting dressed up makes one sharper, especially in a presentation.  Look good,  feel good.

4.  The back office really runs the show but they rarely get the credit they deserve.

5. No one likes change but without adapting to change, things can get worse.

6. References are important and they will be checked.

7. There is a “way” to do things.  The “way” is probably tried and true and changes should only be made with lots of people involved.

8. Technology is a game changer.

9.  Office romances are difficult and often lead to heartbreak.

10.  It’s never good to ask relatives for money to keep the business afloat.

11.  If you are worried about your job, you probably should be.

12.  Taking a promotion before you are ready is risky but the risks may be worth it.

13.  Large and fixed facilities can present problems if there are revenue hiccups.

14.  It’s never too late to reinvent yourself and try a new career.

The romance of earlier times can be attractive but nearly everything about those times changed. Hard as the workplace lessons might be, everything runs its course and it’s important to look around and change with the times.

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