"Game of Thrones" is such a great example of extreme cases. It is by looking at these extremes that HR practitioners can learn the limits that define best practices.

Understanding these limits are especially important for us because we are so often in the situation where we are the intermediary trying to balance opposite opinions and keep everyone satisfied. This constant focus on positive outcomes can take our attention away from addressing negative behaviors.

HR pros should keep these "Thrones" practices in mind as we work to create, cultivate and implement our best practices.

Cersei’s clarity

Lannisters always pay their debts, and Cersei takes keeping her word to the extreme with the way she rewards and punishes loyalty. She actively seeks out and cultivates loyal behavior, is very clear about what it entails, and decisively administers rewards and punishments accordingly.

By applying this extreme thinking in our workplaces, the opportunities for rewarding loyalty are clear. On the recruiting side, referral bonuses, posting jobs internally first and providing clear career paths all emphasize aspects of company loyalty.

On the staff development side, training, promotions, and performance reviews are provide opportunities to emphasize a company-first mentality. We can also implement rewards programs that tie bonuses to company success and give special recognition to highlight behaviors that go above and beyond standards of loyalty.

What are less clear are the consequences for nonloyal behavior. If loyalty is important enough to emphasize in positive programs, we must consider the significance of the consequences for those who do not exhibit this behavior.

In other words, rewarding desired behavior should be balanced in some way by the weight of addressing undesired behaviors. Lighter consequences can undermine the importance of exhibiting the desired behavior.

As HR practitioners, we need to be very clear about how important organization values are and ensure that our practices consistently convey that importance.

Image credit: HBO/Daily Express

Tyrion’s strategy

Tyrion Lannister, on the other hand, has had to be craftier in his approach. Like HR professionals, his priorities can sway between trying to stay alive and advising leaders on far-reaching strategic decisions. And again, these extremes can help us refine our own best practices.

For example, how many times have we labored under the initiatives of a leader only for leadership to change? Or implemented and trained staff on process and procedure only to be faced with a new court decision that upends what we have been doing?

While we (hopefully!) do not have to worry that our lives are at stake, in some cases, our jobs can be. As such, like Tyrion, it is imperative that we remain vigilantly aware of the external factors that could affect our organization, the internal machinations that could indicate a forthcoming shift in leadership, and then practice adeptly applying that intelligence to make ourselves trusted advisors and worth advocates.

It is up to us as HR practitioners to know the rules of the game, the players, and the limits of extreme behaviors so that we can define and refine our approach, remain invaluable to our leaders, and be important assets to our teams.