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Boldly Go… HR Dilemmas from Star Trek Into Darkness

Nolan Gray Staffing

I am enjoying the latest iteration of the Star Trek franchise and the way JJ Abrams is presenting the classic characters. Because the movies take place at work – on the job – they offer insight into interpersonal relationships of managers and subordinates, team building and collaboration. The latest film, Star Trek Into Darkness, is fascinating and offers a look at how camaraderie at work can flourish even under the toughest conditions and can withstand even the roughest of work stresses.

Here are some of the HR and personnel dilemmas from Into Darkness (spoiler alert!)…

Into Darkness crew

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#1 Is It Ever Okay to Deviate from the Mission?

Captain Kirk deviates from mission to save Mr. Spock’s life. This gets him demoted and unleashes a maelstrom of bad things. But it was quite literally life and death. Now at work, most of us don’t face life and death every day, but there are certainly scenarios that feel that dire. Is it ever okay for a leader to deviate from mission to focus on one person? It’s tough to think about, but maybe Kirk needed to delegate this one to someone else. Leaders need to keep their eye on the ball and deliberately choose not to be hands-on with every single task. If Kirk had done this, ultimately other lives would not have been lost…

Kirk apologizes

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#2 Should Leaders Ever Say They’re Sorry?

I’ll short-circuit this and say – absolutely – depending on the circumstances… Kirk apologizes to Scotty for putting everyone in danger (see #1 above) and does it in a heartfelt way that gets Scotty to come around. When a manager makes an honest to goodness mistake, manning (or womaning up as the case may be) and issuing a mea culpa is the right thing to do. But apologizing because someone didn’t like your strategy or the way you went about something is probably not necessary and could weaken your position as leader. Save apologies for when you truly err and make sure they’re sincere!

Angry Kirk

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#3 Is It Okay to Let Emotions Rule the Day?

After his mentor is brutally killed, Kirk goes a little nuts and wants to pursue the baddie with guns a blazing. So is it okay to indulge? No! Getting yourself mentally psyched to do a good job is okay, sadness for co-workers having a tough time is okay but anger (like Kirk is channeling) is one emotion that should be checked at the door when it comes to work. I’ve written before that tears at work are okay when appropriate – because we’re human, emotions are inevitable. But giving them sway unchecked is never a good idea!

Star Trek Into Darkness


If you haven’t seen Into Darkness and you’re a Trekkie, I highly recommend it. And even if you missed the first installment of the new franchise or have never been much of a sci-fi fan, it’s still a rollicking good action movie! And if you haven’t made it out to the movies in way too long because you’re bogged down in administrative paperwork, new hire onboarding and tracking absenteeism – never fear! You just need to boldly go and check out Jobscience’s products and apps that can help you streamline your HR tasks and get your work week back under control!