Re-ignite potential with reverse headhunting

David Taylor

Inside track

Resignation from a company is fraught with different emotions. Behind the statistics (it costs three...

David Taylor

Inside track

Resignation from a company is fraught with different emotions. Behind the statistics (it costs three times more to replace someone than to train them), beyond the procedures (please complete this form indicating lost skills), and beneath all of the surface professionalism (we are not surprised) lie the real feelings.

First comes the excitement of the call from the headhunter, offering the "ideal" position, the joy so often felt as one resigns and the secret panic in the organisation as you do so.

Then, after you have left, the discovery that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. The inevitable contractor taken on to fill the gap (they will stay forever) and the blame - you are suddenly the reason that everything has gone wrong.

Quite apart from reducing the cost of losing people, the talents they take with them and the time to replace them, there must be a better way of doing things.

But there is reverse headhunting. It involves staying in direct contact with those people who leave. They have skills, personality or presence you will sorely miss, and you have a view to them returning to your organisation at some stage.

When someone decides to leave, it usually happens like this. They are attracted by a particular position, either by seeing an advert or receiving a call from a head hunter. Regardless of their success in their current position, their mind has switched into thinking about leaving their present employer.

When this happens, it is only a matter of time before a person will leave. With this new mindset, they will be actively looking for something new. One can often tell these people by the fact they read Computer Weekly back-to-front.

How can IT leaders encourage people to see their present company is as appealing as any other? And if you do lose a key person, how can you get them back again?

First ensure that people treat their present position as equal to any they may apply for.

Write out compelling descriptions for the positions you have, as if it were a recruitment campaign. Make sure they are available for all.

Keep people's CV and skills up to date for them.

Secondly, reverse headhunt. Do this by keeping in close contact with anyone who leaves whom you really need. I am not recommending that you stalk them, merely that you call them now and again to see how they are. Also, let them know they would always be welcome back at your company. Let them know of the cultural improvements you are making.

Also, ensure that people who leave your organisation are not blamed for anything.This is not easy, but when you set the trend others will follow.

One word of warning - don't bring people back in more senior roles. If you do, word will spread like wildfire that the best way to be promoted is to resign.

Reverse headhunting is now used by several organisations. They have achieved stunning results, cost savings and, most importantly, have re-ignited talent and potential.

David Taylor's Inside Track, a provocative insight into the world of IT in business, is out now. It is published by ButterworthHeinemann Tel: 01865-88180

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