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Embracing the head hunter. Or how to no longer fear direct approaches on your staff.

My team of project managers at Rokk Media recently experienced en-mass an approach via LinkedIn from recruiters within a tech company new to the region looking to lure them across.

My first reaction was fairly ambivalent but after I heard of yet another approach I felt sufficiently angry to send their CEO an email outlining why I thought this was not a great move given how closely knit the local business community is in this city. It was light-touch and professional but left no doubt that I was unimpressed with the tactic.

How dare they send a raiding party in to poach in my ‘territory’?!

Interestingly a few days later a news story emerged from the States of the uncovering of a ‘clandestine’ pact among the biggest names in Silicon Valley instigated by Apple’s founder Steve Jobs some years ago to agree not to head hunt staff between the signatories. That is now subject to hefty lawsuits as an act of ‘anti-trust’ and heads are already beginning to roll – to carry the metaphor forward! The argument is that it should be up to each to decide whether to accept or decline a direct approach and by seeking to prevent this from happening it is essentially taking away their rights as an individual.

This made me think again about the interlopers, and my, approach. Although arguably on the fringes of good business ethics (but not necessarily bad business practice), I began to view this from a different stance.

I now believe wholeheartedly that the better way of dealing with head-hunting approaches like this is simply to accept that they will happen, particularly if your business is growing and the quality of your team developing also. In some ways it’s quite flattering. The only truly practical way to counter these approaches is to make the decision easier for your team – to stay with the company they love working for.

So by making sure you provide your team with the best working environment, exciting regular incentives, genuine and clear motivation and of course, a competitive – even market leading package, the decision will always fall massively in your favour. Why would they want to move? At Rokk Media we have always sought to do this, and continue to review on a very regularly basis. Your business is only as good as your team after all.

When all said and done, loyalty is ultimately earned, not bought, sold – or imposed.

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