Everything I Know About Managing A Team I Learned From Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Part 2)

Right now, I am in the middle of five weeks of full time managing at my Boring Day Job. This was somehow both totally unexpected (I’ve only been there for nine months! I’ve never managed anyone!) and definitely the obvious solution to our shortstaffing (I was already working twice as many hours as usual! I already do most of the things a manager does! People keep telling me I’m doing a great job and they’re thankful that I’m there and want to support me!).
Full disclosure, I’ve never had a full time job. At one point I was lecturing and tutoring 12 hours a week plus working on my doctorate but that’s not really the same as clocking on for 8.5 hours a day. I’ve never accrued annual leave or had Rostered Days Off, until now. My coping strategy for this extreme increase in responsibility has been spending my free hours binge-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the umpteenth time. But it’s helping!

Lesson #2: Don’t Be The Boss Genie

Although he’s hardly the obvious choice for the job, on Thanksgiving weekend Jake is left in charge of the precinct for what should be a cushy shift. He gleefully takes on the role of Boss Genie, acceding to all of the squad’s requests. But the fun is soon done when they find a package of mysterious white powder and the entire building is placed under a biohazard lockdown. Jake tries to keep morale high by downplaying the situation, while Amy handwrings in the background trying to suggest structure and rules.

Jake Peralta:  I just don’t want people to panic, so I’m asking for your help to keep this thing quiet, so we can have the chillest biohazard lockdown in Brooklyn.

(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 2, episode 7, ‘Lockdown’)

But after a rumour spreads that the package might be more than a hoax, the civilians panic, fights break out, and a couch is lit on fire. Jake concedes that Amy might be a better, more capable leader, but she doesn’t let him abdicate responsibility quite so easily:


Amy: You’re still trying to make people happy. Don’t apologise to me. Be a leader and tell me what you need me to do. Tell everyone what you need them to do.

(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 2, episode 7, ‘Lockdown’)

I’m still working on this one, truth be told. But I have a tendency to take on responsibility for everything in the workplace, even things that aren’t technically part of my job. This gets more difficult, of course, when you’re a manager and just about everything can be construed as ‘part of your job’. But I’m trying to communicate more with my co-workers about what I want to get done, and what they need to be doing to help. Personally, I work better when I’m not micro-managed and don’t have a boss constantly telling me what I need to get done. But we’re one team member short and everyone’s in a new role, so I have to be sure that certain things will be done correctly and on time.



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