Is it worth investing in your people when they can move on?

There is a lot of talk about building relationship, most often to sell something or to create a leveraging point.

Excellent companies invest in their people

I know of an excellent company in a niche field where it takes many years for their people to develop the knowledge required.  So they sink many years’ investment into their people, including paying for Masters and Ph.D studies.  On the other hand, the Executive is cognizant that their young talent will often move on to larger corporations to get the career exposure they desire. This creates a real dilemma for them as they lose the benefit of all their investment plus many years’ IP.

So do they axe the financial support of these expensive studies?

How to treat the employee who exits

There is a cycle in hiring and career paths.  A good employee may move on to gain the broad experience and extra training that comes with working for a large corporation, and there is the potential for returning with that wealth after some years.

The original company would be in the winning position afterall. But how should they handle the risk?

The employee’s exit is the strategic opportunity. It makes a big impression and difference when company leaders demonstrate care and forethought in an employee’s exit.

Don’t let them go quietly – celebrate their exit!

Send them off with the company’s best wishes (be personal!), publicly acknowledge the company’s proactive contribution to their development and success (get some mileage out of it).

DO Keep in contact, be generous, allow your valuable employee space to experience, follow his (her) dreams, even to make a mistake, farewell with a clear “open return” invitation. Openly celebrate their dreams, desire for challenge, and vision for their future.

DON’T be sour about them leaving (does it burn your ego?).  At worst, this will imprint trust, loyalty and goodwill amongst the remaining team. It also creates goodwill ‘out there’ as the happy ex-employee talks about your company with confidence and admiration. Your company needs Advocates.

The way your satisfied ex-employees talk about your company could become your competitive advantage and smart recruiting strategy – it’s free marketing to other in-demand specialists.

CLEARLY leave the door open, paint the picture of coming back with new skills and experience and the opportunity for significant opportunity.

Stay in touch!

This is the hard part – easier to forget – but don’t dare. People want to know you CARE; and high achievers particularly want to know they are VALUED. When you don’t earn from them but still care, the impact is strong and lasting.

In my life in Direct Sales, we called this generous sharing, “abundance mentality”. Wherever possible, when my leaders moved on, I celebrated their dreams, recognized their contribution, and presented them with a gift. I kept in contact where possible, maintained relationship with an occasional call, to keep that contact going. I never burn my bridges, and actively try to maintain them.

This is counter-intuitive – but it always pays.