With the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the venerable, respected and longest-serving sovereign of the United Kingdom, I cannot help but think of the great responsibility that awaits her eldest son, King Charles III.
Finally, after 73 years as an intern, the 73-year-old Royal is stepping into a complex and important new managerial role.
With that in mind, I’ll help the monarch by offering some “first day’s work” advice. Admittedly, everything I know about British culture and leadership I learned from binge-watching The Crown and the original version of The Office.
But I know a lot about starting new jobs, which I think qualifies me to share valuable knowledge about the workplace.
And so, undeterred by the rigid, in-the-box thinking defined by knowledge of British class systems, culture, politics or even geography, here are my humble suggestions:
- Take everyone to the pub after work on the first day and buy the first round. Tell everyone to “just call Chuck, please,” and don’t hold court. Ask people about their favorite football clubs and talk about things Brits talk about in everyday life. (I’m not exactly sure what that is, so our guess is Harry Styles, Posh and Becks, and Figgy Pudding.)
- Introduce Casual Friday. One of the most common complaints about the monarchy is all the protocol and formality. I propose introducing casual Fridays at the Palace, where everyone pays a pound for the privilege of dressing as sloppily as the average American. Imagine how friendly and welcoming Buckingham Palace would look if the Royal Guard regularly loitered around in trucker hats, pajama bottoms and Crocs. Also, I’m sure one of the third tier 2 flanking minions would have a Motörhead t-shirt for you to borrow.
- Sit down with the cool kids over lunch. Occasionally you need to network with MPs. Who you associate with will have a lot to do with your acceptance by the general population and their perception of your leadership skills. So you’re definitely going to want to stay away from the stoner table, but you also don’t really want to become friends with the note cultivators or the apple polishers. I suggest you sit down with the parliamentarians, who are respected for their shrewd policies but also widely admired by the opposite sex. This puts you in the “smart but still cool” category.
- Be punctual. The first day is not your day to be late. Be sure to set at least two alarms, and maybe ask Berntson, your butler (don’t bother with those unreliable sub-butlers), to get you up at least 45 minutes earlier than usual. It might be helpful to also practice walking from your royal quarters to your home office the night before so you know exactly how long it will take to get there. After all, just because you’re a remote working king doesn’t give you a license to dawdle!
- Don’t forget the “first day of kingship” picture. Be sure to make time for Camilla to snap a quick photo of you standing on the palace front steps with your GI Joe lunch box and Johnny Quest school bag in hand. Then we can look at next year and see how much you’ve grown.
- Lose the royal airs. As someone born to be king, you had advantages and privileges that most others don’t have. There’s no harm in showing your coworkers that you’re a “regular guy.” Clean your vocabulary of all those phrases and words that belie your aristocratic upbringing, like “during,” “unfortunately,” and “maybe.” Replace them with homey phrases like “You’re all bum and parsley” or “Bob is your uncle!”
- Avoid dramatic changes. Your first month isn’t the time to replace microwaveable burritos with black pudding and scones in the break room. It’s not time to replace all workplace safety posters with an illustrated guide to Knicks etiquette.
- Realize that not everyone will recognize you. This may seem absurd, but let’s face it, you’ve aged a bit since your polo-playing 40-year-old Prince Charles days. Some of the younger workers, especially those who aren’t monarchists, might think you’re just an older-than-average middle manager. So don’t bluntly proclaim, “Don’t you know who I am?” Instead, think of yourself as someone like “Iain Bogbottom Broadchurch” or “Collin E. Chuffwhistle” or “Angus Downton Cankerknicker” or something like that.
- Praise employee performance. Everyone hates these, so keep them short, positive, and communicative. Really try to stay away from many royal quibbles such as For example, renaming it to “Loyal Subject Performance Reviews” or expecting a subordinate to bow and bow out of the room after you give them a 0.01% raise. Don’t resort to reminding the colleague that they neglected to write “Your Royal Highness” on the Dilbert cartoon they left on your desk, or that they didn’t provide you with a solid gold Louis XIV tea coaster to set down your used tea bag “wins”, no matter how small. Say things like, “I appreciate you scoffing slightly when I suggested we replace the annual Christmas party with a BYOH (bring your own horse) fox hunt.”
Follow these tips, sir, and I think you’ll be brandishing your own World’s Best King mug in no time.
Bob is your uncle!