4 HR Lessons Learned From Movie Dads & Father Figures

What On Screen Father Figures Teach Us on HR Efforts

It’s that time of year once more. You’re poring over cologne and fishing equipment catalogs, looking for the ideal gift for a very special individual. Father’s Day is a day when we remember all of the wonderful lessons we learned from our fathers.

However, it is not only real-life fathers who have wisdom to impart. Dads who know a thing or two about life may be found on both the big and small screens. There’s a lot we can learn from these film fathers and apply to our professional life. Papa may not preach, but he does have some sound counsel to offer.

Movie Dads Who Influence HR

Here are some of the best, most interesting, and most unconventional silver screen fathers and what they can teach us about our HR efforts:

Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon), “We Bought a Zoo”
Lesson: Change can be necessary

After his wife dies, father of two Benjamin Mee moves to a new house with an exciting new addition: a zoo! Benjamin realizes sometimes change is necessary in order to move on. In the hiring process, this means you can’t ignore the newest advances and technology. Whether it’s sourcing candidates through social media or interviewing them through online video, it’s time to embrace change. The hiring process can certainly be a zoo, but remember if you stay ahead of the curve you’ll be the zookeeper.

Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck), “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Lesson: Always stand up for what’s right

It’s hard to find a better fatherly role model than the attorney whose morality powers Harper Lee’s famous book about growing up and standing up for what’s right. Atticus Finch takes on the doomed defense of Tom Robinson despite the repercussions, because he knows it’s the right thing to do. In your professional life, make sure to take a page out of the Finch playbook. Make sure to keep up-to-date on your EEOC guidelines and never turn down an opportunity for more training. We all have biases which cloud our judgement and perceptions of a candidate or a situation. Be like Atticus and do what’s right.

Chris Gardner (Will Smith), “The Pursuit of Happyness”
Lesson: The best candidates can come from the most unlikely places

Chris Gardner had reached rock bottom, having lost his finances, his wife, and even his home. Even though they were forced to live on the streets, he never gave up on his son. He instilled in his son the importance of resilience in the face of adversity. He went on to have a successful career as a stockbroker, become a multimillionaire, and have Will Smith play him in a film. That’s right, Chris Gardner’s story is based on factual events. Take a moment the next time you make a snap judgment about a candidate. A great hire can emerge from the most basic of origins.

Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams), “Mrs. Doubtfire”
Lesson: Honesty is important

In Daniel Hillard’s divorce, the judge granted his wife custody, allowing him only one day per week with his children. Daniel is more interested in being a friend to his children than in being a responsible father, and it’s simple to see why. But Daniel isn’t deterred by pesky things like “the law.” In order to see his children on a daily basis, he disguises himself as Mrs. Doubtfire, a friendly female caretaker.

While Daniel’s example of subterfuge is touching, it’s less heartwarming when it happens at your company. With more desperate job seekers vying for jobs, there is bound to be more dishonesty in the hiring process. Even CEOs have been caught lying on their resumes. Take a lesson from Mrs. Doubtfire and do some background digging to make sure your candidate isn’t wearing a more qualified disguise.

What On Screen Father Figures Influence You?

What do you think? What other HR lessons can we learn from our big screen dad’s?  Do these onscreen father figures influence your daily business life and the world of HR?  

Josh Tolan is the CEO of SparkHire, which combines a video job board and online interviewing platform to enrich interaction between job seekers and employers. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and @sparkhire on Twitter. 

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Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video powered hiring network that connects job seekers and employers through video resumes and online interviews. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.


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