There is a war on for talent, and your good people are going to be wooed by your competitors, so what could you do? A recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Rebecca Knight called “When the Competition Is Trying to Poach Your Top Employee” suggests that you focus on being the employer that no-one wants to leave. Pay attention to the indicators. Apparently people are most inclined to look around for opportunities around particular anniversaries (either work anniversaries or birthdays), so this would be good timing for career discussions and getting them involved in new projects. A great employee who has just had a project they were invested in put on hold or cancelled is likely to be ripe for the picking – so make sure you quickly address their negative feelings and show that you care. If you can, assign them to a new project that will make their pulse race.
Stay connected to your people to make sure you know if they no longer feel challenged or valued. Notice if they suddenly want to do courses and attend conferences – these could be indicators that they are looking around, so check it out. You can ask the question directly – but make sure that they would feel safe to disclose. You need to tell them that there will be no negative consequence if they are looking around – you just want to know, and you want to know if there is anything you can do to change their minds.
Be alert to opportunities to reduce some of their frustrations. Might flexi-time do the trick? Would working from home twice a week make a difference? Don’t underestimate the impact that these small concessions can make.
Do not allow yourself to be held over a barrel. You are at risk if a single talented individual has knowledge and experience that is crucial to the success of your business. Make sure that you always have alternatives. Ask and answer the bus question: “If this person was taken out by a bus tomorrow, what would I do?” If you struggle to answer the question, you are at risk and need to take action. Make sure these talented people have individual development plans that give them a clear sense that they will benefit by staying.
In the long-run, however, we need to make peace with the fact that there will always be a certain amount of movement – it is natural and sometimes even desirable. For more, read the original article: https://hbr.org/2015/09/when-the-competition-is-trying-to-poach-your-top-employee.
Have you noticed who might be at risk in your team? Any anniversaries? Any big disappointments experienced by key team members? How will you respond to these talented people? Do you have a plan that mitigates any risk attached to having too much intellectual property vested in one individual? Do all your talented people have an inspiring personal development plan? If not, what do you intend doing about it?
The next article in this series will look at the concept of development in a broader sense. If you have any feedback on your progress that you would like to share, email me. Email me if there is a specific aspect of leadership that you would like me to explore.