The Headhunters Are Coming … Are You Ready?

Josh Letourneau Joshua Letourneau, Retention, Working With Recruiters

The Assassins lay in wait.  The Ninjas hone their resolve.  The Samurai sharpen their swords in silence.  Yes, it is time — like the “White Walkers” on HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’, the Headhunters are coming.

As the new dawn awakes from the cold winter of the recession, there is one thing Organizations can count on – the Headhunters are coming … and unless they’re on your team (or you have them on your take), they don’t come in peace.

Headhunters are the modern day Mercenaries of the business world.  The highest bidder is most usually the Victor; and to the Victor go the spoils.  When it’s all said and done, it’s the Victor who writes history (accuracy and truth not withstanding).

This begs the question: Just how fortified are your defenses?  How resilient is your network?  How impermeable is your security?

Here’s a quick list to immediately bolster your armour and harden your Organization as a target —

1. Look at the roots of your Organization first.  Are your Managers and Leaders those who instill trust and confidence in their teams?  Can they define “integrity”?  If not, you might as well get rid of them.  Sure, feel free to dump more money into “training”, but remember this – leopards rarely change their spots.  Upgrade your leadership and watch the impact on your retention.  “Leadership Retreats” and seminars look great in marketing materials, but breaking a leg while jumping off a ledge into a group of co-workers (who don’t want to catch you in the first place) doesn’t make one a Leader.  This isn’t easy and it takes time, but time and time again, it works.  Hire Leaders that people will follow, not run from.

2. Do you have a Career Development Plan?  What do your Employees have to aspire to?  20 years and a gold watch?  Those days are behind us, and playing Frank Sinatra in the background still doesn’t make a superficial “Thanks for the years” ring any better.  Instead, show Employees that caring about their development is more than just lip service – ensure you have a plan that is documented and accessible by all levels in the organization.  And, oh yeah, stick to it.

3. Is “Black Friday” a term in your organizational vocabulary?  Does your firm lay off 20% of the workforce every October so your numbers look a little better in January the next year?  If so, good luck.  The only talent you’re retaining is the Employee that either lives in a bubble or hasn’t heard of that “social media thing-a-ma-jigger” called LinkedIn yet.  Sure, in a down economy, you can screw people – that’s life.  But remember, once your employment brand becomes associated with hatcheting off employees to earn Executives an extra week of vacation at the Jersey Shore, it’s pretty darn tough to break that stigma.

In the end, it’s your call – fortify your defenses or watch your market share burn to the ground as the Headhunters pilfer and loot you of every HiPo you have.  The choice is yours.