Every manager wants to retain their star performers, don’t they? Well, no, not quite every manager. In a recent interview with The New York Times, management consultant Sheila Talton gave a surprising piece of advice.
“One thing I’ve done a lot over the years is to push my stars out,” she said. Whenever peers tell her they’re looking for somebody to hire, she’ll offer up her own best people for them to interview.
It sounds counter-intuitive. Most managers, after all, are more worried about what they can do to stop their top talent from leaving. Talton’s approach is to help them out of the door.
So does her advice make sense? Let’s look at the implications in more detail.
Keep Them In the Organization
If you can “push your stars out” to other departments within your organization, it’s better than having them leave for a competitor. They may not work for you any more, but they’ll give you influence in another department, as well as strengthening the organization overall, which is the right thing to do.
And after they’ve got experience in a different department, they may be ready to come back to work for you in a more senior position.
Show That You Value Them
“It’s very important that my team know that I’m invested in their career,” says Talton. There’s no better way of showing this than by putting their interests ahead of your own.
But what good is that if they no longer work for you?
Well, some employees will end up not taking the new job, and will stay with you, more motivated than before thanks to your efforts on their behalf. Even when you do lose your stars, the other members of your team will notice how you help people develop their careers, and will feel more engaged and committed. And as you develop a wider reputation for helping people advance, you’ll find it easier to recruit talented, ambitious people.
They’ll Leave Anyway
“Loyalty is not something a company can rely on,” says Wharton management professor Adam Cobb. Decades of downsizing and benefit cuts have eroded employees’ loyalty. Surveys show that a third of employees plan to leave their jobs by the end of the year, and 76% would leave if the right opportunity came.
There’s plenty you can do, of course, to retain good people for longer. Giving them more responsibility, treating them well, giving financial rewards, and arranging mentoring opportunities all improve retention. But ultimately bright, ambitious people will look for new opportunities, and if you help them, they’ll remember you for it and perhaps come to work for you again in future.
Develop Personal Loyalty
Company loyalty may be on the verge of extinction, but personal loyalty is as strong as ever. People feel a strong connection with a manager who treats them well, and you can build a network of loyal people both in your own department, across the organization, and even in other companies.
This ties in with what we saw in a recent post on leadership in the year 2030. A recent study forecasts that by then, fighting to retain staff will be “a battle that leaders can only lose.” Having a network of trusted people in various different positions will be the loyalty of the future.
Does this concept make sense to you? Are you ready to push your stars out, or will you be fighting to hold onto them?