Is your office turning into King’s Landing every Monday morning? By now it doesn’t even matter if you’re a Game of Thrones fan or not, your employees most probably are.If you want to avoid disciplinary meetings over spoilers and office gossip on who should sit on the Iron Throne we suggest keep your employees engaged and happy. You’re welcome.

Here’s what you need to learn:

1. Power resides where men believe it resides

Varys-power resides where men thinks it resides - Game of Thrones

You might be the manager but your position doesn’t guarantee allegiance. Ask Joffrey. Respect is earned and your leadership skills are your “power” warranty, not your title. Be the leader they want to follow not the leader they’re forced to work with.

2. You have to pay the Iron price

Iron price -Game of Thrones

Engaged employees don’t grow over night. If you want them to be productive and invested in your company you have to make sure their basic needs are covered. Don’t get out a press release stating you value your employees if their salaries are constantly late.

3. All of the power is yours, you need only reach out and take it

Littlefinger Game of Thrones

It’s easy to get fooled into thinking that if you hold a managerial position, you are entitled to be listened-to. Being a manager means leading your team, being part of your team and taking responsibility for them, not being the boss.

The power is yours when your team trusts you. Be a servant leader!

4. Valar dohaeris

Valar Dohaeris - Game of Thrones

As a manager, you are one of the most powerful influencers on company culture. If you set the tone to camaraderie, team work and assertiveness you will have an engaged and engaging culture.

For some managers, being part of the team doesn’t come that easily. Where do you draw the line between team member and team leader? A good leader doesn’t need that line because he sees his team as a whole.

5. Why ask for truth when you can close your ears to it?

Daenerys - Game of Thrones

The House of Feedback sits on the Iron Throne of Employee Engagement. The voice of the employee is what makes or breaks engagement. Are you listening to it? Following up on it?

Not only can feedback help you achieve 150% of your goals, it can help you reduce turnover rates and improve your company culture.

6. The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword

Ned Stark - The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.- Game of Thones

Successful companies have a particularly important thing in common – they have very strong company values. And they act on them. Integrity and taking responsibility for one’s actions should be the first values on your list.

If you want to have engaged employees, make sure you recruit them on your company values and constantly reassert them both verbally and through concrete actions.

7. The things I do for love

jamie lannister - the things i do for love- game of thrones
Work is the no.1 engagement driver. Are your employees happy with what they do? Do they find meaning in it?

If you want them to be engaged you have to give them engaging work to do. I’m not saying that every task has to have deeper meaning but work, overall, should be defined by a purpose.

8. A dragon is not a slave

Daenerys Targaryen- a dragon is not a slave - Game of Thrones

If you only rely on your high-performers not only will you burn them out, but you’ll also diminish everyone else’s work. Everyone on your team has at least one strength. Your job is to combine their strengths so get the best.

Employees perform best when their work environment stimulates growth. Develop your talent and invest in people if you want them to invest in the company’s success.

9. Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.

Petyr Littlefinger - chaos is a ladder - Game of Thrones

If you’re faced with a high level of disengagement, don’t despair. It won’t be easy but you can rewind your company culture. Do an honest analysis to see what drives that disengagement and develop a real HR strategy. Even better, get a Chief Happiness Officer!

10. What do we say to the God of Procrastination? Not today.

Arya Stark - god of procrastination - Game of Thrones

Happy employees is not synonymous to lazy employees. Your engagement strategy shouldn’t just focus on perks and time off, but on meeting the employee’s needs and increasing productivity.

Procrastination is a dangerous foe to any workplace but often times it’s fuelled by the company culture itself. If I’m scared that my manager’s going to yell at me or reassert his well-established conclusion that I’m not very good at my job, I’ll probably be a master of procrastination.

11. Hodor. Hodor. Hodor


Hodor - Game of Thrones

So you have an engagement strategy. Do you think that’s enough? Not according to HR experts. You need to track, measure and test, over and over again until you start seeing results. Hodor, Hodor, Hodor.

And even then, you need to test new ways of engaging employees, new programs and systems to keep up with the shifts in workplace dynamics. More Hodor, Hodor, Hodor.

12. I will answer injustice with justice


Daenerys Targaryen - I will answer injustice with justice - Game of Thrones

Don’t be an angry manager. Deadlines and KPIs are pressure enough, you really don’t need to add extra stress to a project or a team meeting. Even if someone else loses their temper, responding in kind will only increase the tension and it won’t resolve anything.

Emotional intelligence is a leadership attribute that comes with experience so start practicing.

13. The night is dark and full of terrors

The red woman - The night is dark and full of terrors - Game of Thrones

You heard the woman. Don’t keep your employees working until the God of Light claims them in a resignation letter or worse.

People are not more productive if they work overtime. On the contrary, they will misuse their resources and energy, hate you for not being able to get to their families and abuse office supplies to get back at you.

14. You lost a hand, not a stomach

Tyrion Lannister to Jaime Lannister - You lost a hand not a stomach - Game of Thrones

Focus on the bright side! People are more productive and creative when they have more positive emotions.

Teresa Amabile, co-author of The Progress Principle found that, if happier on a given day, people were not only more likely to come up with a new idea or solve a complex problem that same day but also to do so the next day.

15. A wise king knows what he knows and what he doesn’t

Tywin Lannister - Game of Thrones

Trust your team to give you the right information. After all, they’re your team because they have the skills and knowledge required to get results. Use them! Being a manager doesn’t make you omniscient.

You don’t have to know how to code or how to create a vector in order to manage a development/graphic design team. What you need to know is how to best use their knowledge to get the best results. You need to know how to work with your team.

16. And so my watch begins

Tyrion Lannister - And so my watch begins - Game of Thrones

Track and measure your employee engagement efforts if you want them to succeed. Whether you choose to develop your own solution or simply adapt an existing one, it’s important to focus on the unique culture within your company and fit that strategy to your employee persona.

After that, Hodor, Hodor, Hodor.

17. A Lannister always pays his debts

Tyrion Lannister - A Lannister always pays his debts - Game of Thrones

Don’t go stabbing disengaged employees now. The engagement lesson here is that employees need to know what to expect from you. They need an organized work environment where they know the working modus, deadline expectations, quality requirements and so on. The onboarding process is key to this but communication shouldn’t stop there.

Constantly reassert why and how things work and check to see if any improvements can be made. (Voice of the employee, remember?)


Share your employee engagements lesson from Game of Thrones with us!


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Download the eBook and find out what makes people happy to go to work every day and give their best, with real answers from employees across the world.

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