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'Wreck-It Ralph' Raises Workplace Awareness With Respect to Recognition

After watching the new Disney flick 'Wreck-It Ralph,' my kids asked me to blog about it. I told them I'd give it a shot, but I wasn't sure how I could relate it to the workplace. Then it hit me.

November 15, 2012
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After watching the new Disney flick Wreck-It Ralph, my kids asked me to blog about it. I told them I'd give it a shot, but I wasn't sure how I could relate it to the workplace. Then it hit me like a Mario hammer, so stand back: I'm going Turbo.

"Going Turbo," according to the movie, is when a character from a video game leaves a game and enters another. It's named after a character who's more baleful than Bowser. Turbo left his game to sabotage a more popular game. So I'm leaving my terminal and heading back to the 1980s, a time when video games had kooky characters, funky sound effects, simple concepts and totally pixilated graphics, and we loved 'em for it. If I don't return, send for Steve Wiebe, the King of Kong.

In the movie, Ralph, the protagonist/antagonist in the film decides to go Turbo in order to get a medal. Ralph has played the unappreciated "bad guy" in the fictional (now nonfictional since it's an app) 1980s game Fix-It Felix Jr. The game's something like a cross between Donkey Kong and Rampage.

Ralph has one of the most important jobs in the game: breaking windows so the hero, Fix-It Felix Jr., can repair them, but Ralph is an outcast. For their 30th anniversary, the do-gooders in the game, or Nicelanders as they're called, have a celebration, but they don't think to include our hero, Ralph. Felix reluctantly allows Ralph to join the party, but the other characters turn him away until he can produce a medal like Felix's. That's why Ralph goes rogue, or Turbo, to gain acceptance. Of course, the game cannot continue without Ralph, so the Fix-It Felix Jr. world becomes "out of order."

On his quest, Ralph befriends and helps a likable "glitch" character named Vanellope von Schweetz who also is unliked and unwanted by the characters in her game, Sugar Rush. She's almost like a contractor who works in the office, but isn't accepted as part of the team.

The real-world lesson is actually quite obvious here: Teams can't excel unless all the pieces are working together.

Of course, there is no workplace Utopia, so some people just aren't going to be happy no matter what. However, that's not an excuse to ignore the discontented people in the workforce.

In the workplace, there are people who stand out as the "stars," like Felix, who are called on to solve problems, manage, close deals or what have you—the people who get most of the rewards and adulation. Deservedly so. But there also are important supporting team members, the Luigis of the working world if you will, who maybe aren't as noticeable but play a vital role, too.

Since most workers aren't expecting year-end-gifts from their employers this year, perhaps it's the best time to show your appreciation to the cast of characters in your office who make things click by giving them a reward to "power up" their creative juices, even if it's a small gift card or moving someone up to the next level. By doing so, you're bound to win bonus points in engagement.

James Tehrani is Workforce's copy desk chief. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.

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