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Chase Away Your Best People

March 28, 2016

Look – you’re my best friend, so don’t take this the wrong way. In twenty years, if you’re still livin’ here, comin’ over to my house to watch the Patriots games, still workin’ construction, I’ll kill you. That’s not a threat; now, that’s a fact. I’ll kill you. 

– Chuckie, Good Will Hunting

You owe it to the your best employees to get them to leave. 

That’s right. You should have a plan in place to get your best employees, in fact, all your employees to leave. My son recently went to work for McDonalds. He’s sixteen and excited to be working. But, he has no illusions about the future of his job. He understands it’s a first job and that he will eventually move on. 

How about your employees? Depending on where they are in their careers, they will have different career goals. I once had an intern work for me who was a fantastic programmer. He came to me one day and said he had a chance to go to work for a startup.

That sounds like a great opportunity for you.

But, my internship isn’t up for another 4 months. I’m not sure about leaving.

Look, your career is your responsibility. This job offer looks like it would be a great next step. You’ve done a great job for us, but I don’t want to deny you this new chance for the last four months.

He took the job and it was the career launchpad that he thought it would be. 

I had an engineer who worked for me, who had a similar opportunity. Ethan came to me and said that a software company wanted to hire him. He asked me for advice and asked if I would be a reference. 

He wasn’t just an engineer, he was my best engineer. Truly brilliant. I not only offered to be a reference, I encouraged him to find out more about the job. Ultimately, he turned them down. Last I heard, he’d been promoted twice and was an Enterprise Architect at my old company. So, while he didn’t leave the company, he did leave the team. 

That’s the real point. You should be giving your employees an opportunity to learn new things, develop new skills. Encourage them to grow. Will that mean they no longer stay on your team? Of course. But, as a manager, you have both a responsibility to the company AND a responsibility to your employees. You can make new opportunities available to them, or you can prevent those opportunities. However, if you try to keep them tied to your team by denying them the opportunity to get additional training, preventing them from going to interview elsewhere, limiting their exposure within your organization, you will kill the golden goose. In other words, the very characteristics that make them good employees will be damaged if you try to deny them the chance to grow. 

Don’t be afaraid to lose them. If your team is known as a “launching pad” for promotions and career growth, you will have your pick of ambitious talented people clamoring to take the place of your super stars.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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