Holding Back Your Star’s Hair While They Puke: HR Lessons from The Social Network

Dawn Burke Change, Culture, Dawn Hrdlica

I know that I am late on the upswing… but last night I finally saw The Social Network. The actor, HR rockstar and blogger in me can’t believe it took me this long to see it. Loved it by the way. Really liked the Trent Reznor soundtrack too. But back to talent management.

So, here is the thing that got my recruiter blood swirling and really was the heart of the emotional storyline in The Social Network…

The_social_network_movie_poster What’s the better business move from a talent management standpoint?

  • Hire the loyal – perhaps innovating – upstanding, rule-following, competent worker who just can’t seem to move your money-maker forward fast enough (aka Facebook “co-founder”, Eduardo Saverin).  Good, fair, can get it done… just not fast.
  • Or go with the coked-out rockstar who has a magic touch AND drives results. I mean he really gives your business the shot of adrenaline it needs to make it big (aka Facebook owner and Napster aficionado, Sean Parker). He is a bottle of risk you will have to swallow, however.

The question is as old as time really.

So what do you think?  I’d love to hear.

I think it really is a matter of one thing: what stage is your business at evolutionarily.  Not revolutionarily… but evolutionarily. Anyone can start a revolution. There is no prototype. Most think the loud, too-cool-for the room, wear-it-on your sleeve, let it all hang out of your pants types are the only ones who can push the revolutionary button. Not true. Not true. Not true.

Anyone. Can. Start. A. Revolution. 

All it takes is an idea to start a revolution. Some courage helps. But really, revolutions start by ideas not personality types, stereotypes, or prototypes.

Evolutions – the stuff that is cemented by results, the stuff that takes your company to the next level or keeps your company at its current level (if that is you strategy), usually takes a certain personality trait. In The Social Network… that “next step” evolution could only happen with the superstar who could get the result (no matter how much you had to clean up afterword).

So, lessons from The Social Network:

  • Brains and Brawn make nice bedmates
  • One idea can create a Revolution
  • One personality can prop your corporation into its next Evolution
  • Growth is not neat
  • If you want to be a strategic HR Rockstar – you better start to flex your muscles and prepare to hold back someone’s hair while they proverbially puke

Classy: no.

Pretty: definitely not.

A means to your company’s next end: YES.

Dawn Burke

Dawn Burke, founder/advisor for Dawn Burke HR, is an HR leader, speaker and writer specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture. Her HR/leadership career has spanned the last 20 years, most recently serving as VP of People for Birmingham, AL’s award-winning technology company, Daxko (And yes, Kris Dunn and Dawn are making Bham the HR capital of the world! Who knew?). You can also check her out at DawnHBurke.com and a variety of other interesting places. Google her, it’ll keep you posted on what she is up to.