With the new season less than a week away, Game of Thrones (GoT) hype is reaching fever-pitch. Like all good fantasy series, the GoT universe mirrors the real world in more ways than one. In one such comparison, it can be seen as a power struggle between competing businesses. But in a world bereft of technology, never has the importance of recruiting the right people been more prominent in the “business” strategies of the main characters.
So who is the most skilled recruiter, and what techniques are they employing?
The Starks- The Importance of Skill Matching
Undoubtedly the worst recruiters in GoT so far, the Starks are scattered and largely defeated at the end of season four. Rob Stark epitomises their HR failures by trusting both Theon Greyjoy (who betrayed him and sacked Winterfell) and Walder Frey (who betrayed him and then killed him).
So why are the Starks seemingly defeated as we move into season five? Largely by employing the wrong people in the wrong positions. Taking the example of Theon Greyjoy, we can see that Theon did not have the right skills (trustworthiness, leadership etc.) to have such an important influence on Rob Stark’s decisions. Ultimately this staffing failure cost Rob Stark time and money. The Starks show the recruitment world the importance of getting the right people with the right skills in the right positions. Putting the wrong people in critical positions could be disastrous for your business.
The Lannisters- Attracting Top Talent with Above Average Salaries
“A Lannister always pays their debts,” is quoted almost as much as “Winter is coming,” in GoT. But what does it actually mean? Essentially, it means everyone who sides with the Lannisters- that doesn’t end up dead- ends up rich… and anyone who crosses the Lannisters ends up dead.
Although that’s a dead-to-rich ratio of 2:1, I’d really like to focus on those that end up rich.
As an employer, the Lannisters are basically paying above average salaries to attract the top talent. The Mountain and Ser Bronn are two such examples of mercenary warriors who work for the Lannisters.
Ultimately, while salaries are an important factor in recruiting candidates initially, they tend not to inspire employee loyalty long term-a view which is backed up by real world academic research (Herzberg's Theory of Motivation and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs). As all good recruiters know, it is important to focus on factors such as job satisfaction and societal contribution when placing candidates.
This view is echoed by the actions of the Hound in GoT, who leaves the Lannisters because he is forced to confront some deep seated fears. When push comes to shove, he decides that money is not a big enough motivation for him to remain in the employ of the Lannisters.
Daenerys Targaryen– Mass On-boarding Program
When Daenerys Targaryen took control of the Unsullied army (a massive army of eunuch slaves) in season three she used a mass recruitment approach- similar to those used at large events or by large companies.
At this point the Unsullied are loyal to Daenerys, although as employees they are not motivated or engaged-just like the Lannister’s lackeys
By the end of season three however, Daenerys finds herself in control of an engaged work force, heightening her power. She achieved this by empowering her employees, and granting their freedom. Literally. By breaking their bonds of slavery, Daenerys achieves the pinnacle of recruitment strategies in GoT. She manages to inspire employee loyalty and engagement by empowering her employees.
Back in the real world, there are tools and practices that help to smooth over recruitment process. Of course, here at Eploy we can help with skills matching, charge and pay rates and on-boarding. So that’s one advantage you have over the GoT characters. Perhaps another is to live in a world where regular seasonal changes occur.