The iconic and often hilariously misguided Michael Scott from "The Office" might not be the first character that springs to mind when you think about effective management. However, beneath his comedic missteps and awkward moments, there are genuine management lessons that drilling business managers can take away. Here’s how some of Michael’s most memorable quotes and actions can translate into solid management advice.

  1. A Good Manager Hires and Inspires

During an episode of “The Office,” the temp-turned-CTO-turned-salesman Ryan asks Michael to speak at his business school for a project. Michael learns that Ryan believes the company won’t last six months, given the technology making Dunder Mifflin irrelevant and unable to compete price-wise. Once Michael and Ryan return to the office, Ryan begs Michael not to fire him based on his remarks. 

In response, Michael Scott famously states, “A good manager doesn't fire people. He hires people and inspires people. People, Ryan. And people will never go out of business.” This rings especially true in the drilling industry, where team cohesion and morale are critical for safety and efficiency. A manager’s job isn’t just to oversee; it’s to foster an environment where employees are motivated and feel valued. Inspiration can drive a team to exceed expectations, even in tough drilling projects. On top of this, a good manager recognizes that every employee deserves second chances and someone to believe in them. 

Lastly, Michael Scott understands that people are the key to management and sales. People are business, and even someone as blissfully unaware as Michael knows how important it is to put people first in business interactions. 

  1. Embrace With Grace

Michael’s belief in the power of distraction to alleviate stress is something all managers can learn from. During a day in which the company believes they may all go down and lose their jobs, Michael pulls out a Murder Mystery game and starts to get his team involved in the plot. As he explains, “Games have the power to distract people from stressful situations.” 

Disgruntled by what he thinks is a disregard for the severity of the situation, the newly appointed Co-Manager, Jim, begins to argue with Michael about why he would choose today of all days to play a game. In response, Michael argues, “They need this game, Jim! Let us have this stupid little game, alright!?” In the drilling field, where the work is often tough and the hours long, allowing your team some light-hearted relief can refresh their spirits and boost productivity.

Even something as simple as music in the field or a nice lunch/snack on particular days of the week can give your workers a bit of energy and pep, which will retain them and show your respect for them even in the face of adversity. 

  1. Let Loose With Your Team

During the “Booze Cruise” episode, Michael realizes it’s okay not to have complete control over the situation. In a moment where he chooses to dance with his team rather than present a session for their business retreat, Michael states, “Sometimes you have to take a break from being the kind of boss that’s always trying to teach people things. Sometimes, you just have to be the boss of dancing.” 

While this is one great example, the overarching theme of his character as a leader focused on the fact that Michael was never afraid to let loose with his team, creating memorable bonding experiences that enhanced his team cohesion. For drilling managers, participating in or facilitating team-building activities can reinforce trust and improve communication among crew members. Not every retreat or company event should be to teach new techniques or learn new curriculum. Instead, try nurturing the spirits of your drillers and see the difference in their performance and attitudes as a result. 

  1. Trust is the Key to Sales

Michael exemplifies his sales philosophy during one scene from the show when he says, “Make friends first, make sales second, make love third. In no particular order.” The same ideals can be seen when Michael attends a sales meeting with Jan Levinson at Chili’s. While Jan may not initially understand why Michael wants to order food and drinks with the client and get to know him better, it becomes apparent at the end of the night when the client agrees to work with Dunder Mifflin as they understand his needs,  are local and humble, and won’t be a part of the outsourcing problem in their community. Jan is immediately amazed by Michael’s ability to earn a major sale that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, thanks to making friends with his client and making the sale after that trust is earned. Even Michael’s famed Rolodex shows how he remembers the little details and befriends his clients to gain their business.

Building genuine relationships is fundamental, particularly in industries reliant on trust and reliability, like drilling. Whether dealing with clients or vendors, focusing on building strong, respectful relationships can lead to long-term business success. And it doesn’t help to keep a Rolodex with valuable information on hand as some of the greatest business leaders in the world relied on cards of information to remember their connections on a deeper level. 

  1. The Human Touch Reigns Supreme

During a later episode, when Michael’s sales team is slowly being replaced by Ryan’s virtual sales platform, Michael and Dwight head out to earn back past clients through the use of gift baskets and human connection. Although this endeavor doesn’t go as positively as he’d hoped and winds up with him driving his rental car into a lake by following a GPS device too literally, in a moment of frustration, Michael saliently states, “People will never be replaced by machines. In the end, life and business are about human connections. And computers are about trying to murder you in a lake. And to me, the choice is easy.” 

In an era where technology continues to advance, the human element remains irreplaceable. What truly made Michael’s branch so successful was his ability to focus on the human touch of his team rather than the tech that continuously tried to replace them. Understanding individual team members' strengths and weaknesses can lead to better project management and more effective problem-solving. It can also help small drilling brands stand out even when major brands may have bigger products, tech, and project management applications on their side. 

  1. Recognize Your Team’s Value

When Michael discovers that Stanley is looking to potentially transfer branches, he embarks on a wild scheme with Dwight and Jim to fight the Utica branch and keep their employee. After being caught and told his plan was insane, Michael shares another piece of knowledge: “Granted, maybe this was not the best idea, but at least we care enough about our employees and are willing to fight for them.” 

Throughout the show, Michael consistently showcases his loyalty, respect, and love for his team, and this is what makes “The Office” so special and their bonds so pure. Recognizing and advocating for your team’s value boosts morale and encourages loyalty and a deep-seated commitment to mutual success. If you take one thing from Michael Scott and his team, it should be his ability to make his team feel appreciated, content, and want to work there even despite the company’s questionable decisions outside of their branch. 

As we conclude this lesson in management from the most unexpected places, we must remember that everything in life has a lesson. While Michael Scott’s methods may sometimes be unorthodox, the underlying principles of his management style—focusing on people, building relationships, and creating a positive work environment—are universally applicable. 

Perhaps, after all, Michael Scott should have written the management book he talks about throughout the show, "Somehow I Manage." Drilling business managers could certainly do worse than taking a page from any management book, no matter where it comes from. After all, effective management often comes down to understanding and valuing your people, and who better exemplifies that than Michael Scott?