Interesting article in Fortune from someone who appears to be a good manager and author of the book “You Can’t Fire Everyone” by Hank Gilman. I particularly liked him because he seemed like a ‘good’ manager. i.e. he had the notion of treating his people with respect, and handling his job with class, professionalism, and style. One of his un-stated guidelines he seems to have is that if you build a great work environment, then it will sell itself. Keep that point in mind while reading the rest of this. Some of his points:
- The day your star employee decides to leave is the day you start woo-ing your player back again – it’s not a time to act like child, hold a grudge, or try to sabotage them. New opportunities and a chance to grow/try something different come along for everyone. It’s your job as a manager to get them to want to come back. Doing any of the aforementioned childish behaviors only sabotages your own reputation, future hiring, and long-term career.
- Try to keep them – if what they want is something you can give. Know when it’s right to bend over to keep someone. If it’s about money, get them some more. If it’s about title, do something about that (titles are only words anyway). But if they really want a new job – or need a change – let them take it. People who think a good career move is a new title will likely be back in six months anyway. Conversely, all the money in the world won’t keep someone who really wants or needs a change.
- Don’t bad-mouth their direction/new employer. Even if you know the other company is bad or people there are cut-throat back-stabbers, don’t get involved in a petty squabble or words that might get back to the people you gab about. Show your integrity at those moments. If you’ve build a great work environment, then you can honestly say “Go off and have a great time. I think you have a great opportunity. However, I’ve had enough of them and I believe you’re not going to get much better than what we offer. You’re always welcome here.” The grass isn’t always greener, but sometimes you just have to let them find that out on their own and welcome them back when they’re ready.
- Keep in touch – Make it a point to have lunch or dinner and remain friendly. You have a scout in a new place if you want to recruit one of their colleagues. You also have a damn good reference in case you need to look for work!
He had other suggestions, but you get the idea of his style. He shows how an other-directed focus gives your actions class and doing things with a style that makes people want to come back to him. His advice is to not pout around like a child that didn’t get their way, burn up potential partners and bridges, and generally strangle your own career over the long haul because you’re too ego-centric. If all managers worked in a similar way, then I think far more people would be happier in their work lives.