As The Crown enters its sixth and final season on Netflix, there's plenty to learn from this depiction of 'The Firm', a term often used to describe the Royal Family, and used in the show itself.
In case you're not famliar, The Crown is a historical drama series created by Peter Morgan that premiered on Netflix. The show first debuted on November 4, 2016. This most recent one is the closest to 'home', with portrayals of Princes William and Harry, as well as the engagement of William and Kate Middleton.
The term 'The Firm' is sometimes used colloquially to refer to the British Royal Family, a nickname that suggests the royal family operates like a business entity, with a focus on maintaining the institution and managing its public image. While, of course, it's important to note that the British monarchy is a constitutional monarchy, and the term 'The Firm' is not an official designation, it nods to the processes of a company's evolution which will be familiar to you as an HR professional.
For example, the British monarchy is supported by various offices and staff, and it has a structure that manages its affairs. There is a Household staff, communications team, and other administrative components that contribute to the functioning of the royal family. The idea of the royal family as "The Firm" gained popularity, in part, due to its use in media and entertainment, including The Crown. The term underscores the complexities of managing an ancient institution in a modern world, with all the challenges and responsibilities that come with it.
While it's great entertainment, the show has a lot of HR lessons, from the legacy of leadership to wellbeing and mental health:
Succession planning is crucial for any organisation. In The Crown, the show illustrates the challenges and adjustments that come with leadership transitions, especially within a family or dynasty. The show also explores the ethical dilemmas faced by leaders, emphasising the importance of ethical decision-making. HR leaders can draw lessons on maintaining integrity, transparency, and a commitment to ethical practices.
Balancing Personal and Professional Life
The series highlights the constant struggle of the royal family to balance personal and professional obligations. This is a reminder of the importance of work-life balance for employees at all levels - and managing them well before they reach a crisis point.
Communication and Transparency
Many conflicts in the series arise from a lack of open communication. HR professionals can learn from this by emphasising the importance of transparent communication to build trust and avoid misunderstandings.
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Adapting to Change
The monarchy faces numerous changes throughout the series, including societal shifts and technological advancements - the lesson for HR here is about adaptability. Preparing employees for change is imperative, and making sure policy is in place to adapt to change, too.
Employee Morale and Wellbeing
The emotional wellbeing of employees is crucial. This season, of course, sees the final chapter of Princess Diana's story, and, in the real world, the impact of telling that in a drama on the surviving family, especially Princes William and Harry. Mental health is likely to be higher on your HR agenda than ever before, and this is a reminder that it can affect anyone, at any level of seniority.
Handling Workplace Conflict
The series depicts various conflicts within the royal family and the broader political landscape - conflict resolution isn't always possible, of course. But the big lessons are about learning from conflict, rather than letting the same issues resurface again and again.
Spanning several decades, the drama showcases characters' personal and professional development, from a young Queen Elizabeth to the arrival of the now Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton. Investing in training is the take-home here: training and development used for long-term success in any firm.