In the world of Westeros, chaos isn’t a pit – it’s a ladder.
And for HR professionals tasked with corralling toxic employees, managing that ladder can seem all but impossible. Betrayal, manipulation, rivalries, and leadership changes can threaten to destroy a company culture and pit your star employees against one another.
To help you deal with the Joffreys of your office, we’ve identified 7 toxic employee types based on Game of Thrones houses and crafted tips for dealing with each.
1. House Targaryen: The loose cannon
The Gods of Valyria flip a coin every time a Targaryen is born, and businesses that bring on these fiery team members should do the same. Greatness or madness are the two fates of these dragon-like employees: they’re the kind of people who either help a company IPO, or burn all progress to the ground through their insane business tactics. The worst part? It’s impossible to spot a loose cannon until it’s too late.
How to deal with Targaryens: Harness their social influence to change negative attitudes in the office. If you can get this natural born leader to champion good behavior, the rest of your employees will follow suit.
2. House Stark: The stoic
These northern-inspired team members are silent killers. Like the Starks, they keep a straight face no matter what level of stress they’re under, failing to ask for help even if it means sabotaging their own efforts. The stoic may either end up quitting once their anger and resentment reaches assassin levels, or their professional failures result in an employment beheading.
How to deal with Starks: Appeal to their sense of duty. Reminding a Stark employee of your company’s core values will reignite their passion and sense of obligation to your business goals.
3. House Greyjoy: The thief
Greyjoy employees have few skills of their own, but are cunning enough to survive by stealing credit from their more resourceful co-workers. These idea thieves are ruthless and will shamelessly take advantage of situations to outshine and overtake leadership. Does it work? Rarely, but that doesn’t stop them from trying.
How to deal with Greyjoys: Sometimes a Greyjoy employee simply needs to walk the plank. High achievers that climb the ranks through intellectual thievery will demoralize the hardest working members of your team, and should be cut from your crew as quickly as possible.
4. House Baratheon: The ego-maniac
Baratheon employees want to be in charge. Not for influence, not for esteem, and rarely even for power. They simply feel leadership status is entitled to them, and they’ll do almost anything to get it. These ego-maniacs want the perks of workplace royalty, but don’t have the temper to deal with the effort that success and adoration truly require.
How to deal with Baratheons: Above all else, Baratheons want to have a good time. If they’re causing trouble, find an area of work they can focus on that brings them true joy. They’ll be out of your hair… at least for a little while.
5. House Tyrell: The manipulator
No two Tyrell employees are the same; they’re master manipulators and character chameleons. These people-savvy strategists will plant the seeds of power early, appearing harmless in group settings, only to come out on top with ample resources, allies, and power. They’re the kind of gossip-driven employees that make themselves indispensable, despite the poison they’ve fed your fellow team members.
How to deal with Tyrells: Take notes. These employees never play the same trick twice, and you’ll need an overwhelming amount of evidence to boot them from your team. Even worse? They may be so beloved at this point that you risk your own reputation by drawing attention to their crimes. If it’s not worth the gamble, try and learn how to play nice.
6. House Arryn: The isolator
Employees that mirror house Arryn will be easy to spot. They eat lunch alone, meddle in other people’s business, and showcase a steely self-importance in team meetings. Despite this loner attitude, they somehow seem to know everyone in your industry. In the end, crossing an Arryn can be a fatal career move: one day you’re minding your own business, the next you’re being thrown out of your workplace moon tower.
How to deal with Arryns: Arryn employees are petty, plain and simple. If you can find the root of their insecurity and drive for office-politics vengeance, you should be able to turn this toxic employee into a smart, high-performing worker.
7. House Lannister: The competitor
Lannister employees encompass every terrible trait of the other noble houses, making them the ultimate competitors. They’re manipulative and ruthless firecrackers that will do whatever it takes to be on top. Uninterested in outside opinions, Lannisters think they know best and will destroy co-workers who get in the way of their goals. You know that team member whose social circle gets smaller and smaller the longer they’re employed? Yeah, that’s a Lannister.
How to deal with Lannisters: Lannister employees are like Greyjoys — if their behavior becomes disruptive enough, it may be time to let them go. The difference? A troublesome Lannister may be worth saving if you can redirect their energies towards group wins rather than solo victories. If they haven’t managed to tear down their coworkers, re-channeling a Lannister’s competitive nature may yield you a new Employee of the Month.
Do you agree with our Westeros-workplace crossovers?
Or better yet, can you think of an employee archetype for the Martells or Tullys? Share your Game of Thrones toxic employee with us on social media and we’ll re-share our favorites!