#3 of HR's Biggest Lies – Mr. Smith in our West Region is hoarding talent and won't allow them to move to other regions/departments/etc. Why is this the #3 biggest lie? Because I haven't come up with the other ones yet and three seemed liked a good middle number to start with. I could have also called it HR's biggest excuse for not doing their job – but lie seems more appropriate – because that's really what it is. Here's why saying your leaders are hoarding talent is a lie – because it's not their job to workforce plan for the organization – it's yours!
I've met some great leaders, who were great at one of two things, either: 1. selecting great talent or 2. developing great talent. I've never met a great leader who was good at giving up great talent. I've also never sat in front of a leader in any of the companies I've worked for and had a leader look me in the eye and say, "No, you can't have that person." Wait! I take that back – I have had that happen – once.
Here's how that conversation went:
Mr. Leader: "Hi Tim, nice to see you again. Something must be wrong for HR to come all the way out here to see me!"
Mr. Tim: "Lead, nothing's wrong at all. I even left Grim Reaper cape and scythe at home this trip!"
Mr. Leader: "So, what is our pleasure of having you visit?"
Mr. Tim: "Lead – we need to talk, Ms. Lead back East is in need of a regional director and you have a regional manager who is ranked #1 in the company and I want to offer them the east regional director job."
Mr. Lead: "Tim, that can't happen – that manager has family here, says he'll never leave, just found out his dog has cancer, his wife is prego and he has a rare disease that won't allow him to travel past the Mississippi!"
Mr. Tim: "Wow, I had no idea - YOU were holding him back so much!"
Mr. Lead: "Sackett (now he's getting serious) I don't have anyone who can take his spot!" BOOM! Now we are getting somewhere – this is really what holds back any leader from wanting to give up talent.
Now – as an HR Pro there are exactly two ways you can take this conversation from here – yes – only two – if you still want to get your person:
#1 – Trust – If you have a relationship with the person (which you should) then you have to get them to trust that you will not leave them on an island with no talent and you will "personally" make your life's goal to find the replacement that is better than who they had before. And, you better make it happen. I prefer this option.
#2 – Muscle – This will work with a relationship or not, but it goes a little something like this – "Mr. Lead, I have a meeting when I return to corporate with Mrs. COO and we are going to talk about our regional leaders and who is producing talent for the organization. As you know Mrs. COO values those leaders who are adding talent to the organization and is critical of those leaders who are always taking talent. This would put you in a very good light – don't you think?" Done. The message was sent, you'll get your person – Mr. Lead won't feel good about it, but you gave him a way to spin this to his organization as a positive to the company.
HR TIP ALERT: When you get back to corporate – have Mrs. COO call Mr. Lead and thank him. You'll be amazed at how far that will take you the next time you need to have that conversation.
Thank me later, folks!