For a humorously creative hiring ideas, it’s worth paying a visit to Pawnee, Indiana. For the last few years, many of us at The Resumator have been avid fans of “Parks and Recreation.”
You see, the members of Pawnee’s Parks and Recreation department perform a valuable public service: they show us what can go right when we hire well and what can go terribly wrong when we don’t. While it’s truly hard to pick just three “Parks and Rec” hiring lessons to cover, here are three of our favorites:
Don’t Be Afraid to Hire Your Friends
If there’s anything that Leslie’s campaign for city council taught us about hiring and staffing, it’s that the advantages of working with people you already know can’t be overstated.
In season 4, in an attempt to lock down the city council election, Leslie’s competitor, Bobby Newport, brought in one of Washington’s most decorated spin doctors to manage his campaign. Leslie, on the other hand, was forced to work with her close friends. Though Leslie’s camp wasn’t as experienced as Bobby’s, her staff members each had relevant skills that were beneficial to the campaign.
For instance, Tom’s ability to ingratiate himself with older women made Leslie a hit with the senior crowd. More importantly, the company culture was already set, and each person was emotionally invested in getting Leslie elected. And the importance of that can’t be overstated. Team Leslie cared. That’s why she won.
The lesson? Before you start advertising a new opening at your company over the Internet, look to your friends and acquaintances. If they’re qualified, they’re worth their weight in gold.
Overstaffing Can Kill Your Company
New employees are great and all, but too much of a good thing can kill your company. Just ask Tom Haverford.
Tom and his partner, Jean-Ralphio, made a lot of mistakes when they founded Entertainment 720, Pawnee’s first entertainment media conglomerate. But their biggest error was hiring a bunch of employees – in the absence of any discernible employee selection process – before they had even secured a client. On its opening day, Entertainment 720 was already paying for a full-time DJ, two personal assistants and two Indiana Pacers whose only duties were to hang around and shoot hoops. The company’s overindulgent payroll bankrupted the company within a month and crushed Tom’s dream of owning a successful media company.
Though it’s unlikely that any legitimate business owner would make such ridiculously poor hiring decisions for their own company, the dangers of overstaffing are still very real. If you’re bootstrapping a startup, wait until it’s absolutely necessary to hire your first employee. It’s better to miss out on some profits by hiring late than it is to risk a financial meltdown by hiring too many people too early in the game.
Hire People With Complementary Talents
On their own, Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger might be nothing more than highly dysfunctional state auditors. Together, though, they make the leanest, meanest auditing team in Indiana – and it’s all because they have highly complementary talents.
Ben is a brutally efficient budget-slashing machine. He can cut unnecessary government programs with heartless determination. Unfortunately, this tends to earn him a lot of death threats from the various departments he audits.
Chris, on the other hand, is the most genuinely nice person you could ever hope to meet. He loves everything, which makes him quite terrible at delivering bad news. Although these auditors struggle individually, they work incredibly well together. Chris puts on an enchanting smile while Ben works the knife behind the scenes.
This is the kind of synergy you should be looking for when making hiring decisions for your company. Talents should be complementary. For example, if your tech startup is full of bright, young engineers, try adjusting your employee selection process to look for someone older who can offer the industry experience that you would otherwise lack. By ensuring that each employee’s weakness is covered by another’s strength, you can optimize your company’s productivity and growth.
TV Magic For Business Productivity
A show about a sprawling bureaucracy is bound to hinge on hiring decisions, and that’s why you’ll find an HR-related lesson in nearly every episode of “Parks and Rec.” Of course, you know what the real focus of the employee selection process was in the world of the show. A sitcom needs funny characters. But take a look around you. Peer into the adjacent cubicle. Even though hiring decisions in the real world are based on a different set of criteria, isn’t it crazy how life imitates art?