6 Reasons To Help Your Best People Leave

Why it is in your interest to help your star performers find better jobs elsewhere.

April 29, 2015
Why should you actively work to help your best direct reports find better jobs? 
Isn’t your job as a manager to retain your best people? Yes and no. 
Here are 6 reasons why you should do everything you can to help your best people leave:
Reason 1 - Helping Your Employees To Leave Is Actually Your Best Retention Strategy:
If your people see you making consistent and active efforts to aid their career development they are more likely to stay with you. Nothing build long-term loyalty faster than a belief that a boss cares about her people. You want your best people to stay in your unit because they want to be their. The job of the manager is increasingly to support those people actually doing the work. This is especially true in higher education, as the work is so complicated and variable that there is no way break it down into precise algorithms, or even to really monitor what is going on. Prioritizing career development, even if that means leaving the organization, will only aid in developing employee internal motivation.
Reason 2 - Your Gain in Loyalty and Trust Will Outweigh the Loss of Losing Your Best People:
When you are willing to do what it takes to help the careers of your direct reports, even if that means helping them move to other jobs at the university or somewhere else, you build trust with everyone in the unit. For every person that leaves, many more will stay.  For those who remain, being known as a manager that cares deeply about people’s long-term careers will pay enormous dividends in terms of loyalty and trust. If you are the sort of a manager that cares deeply about the careers of your direct reports you will also reap terrific benefits when it comes to recruitment, as people will want to come work for you.
Reason 3  - Higher Education is a Network:
Higher education is a networked industry. We are interdependent on each other for information, innovation, and leadership. Our most important colleagues will be found both on our own campuses, and at peer institutions. Facilitating the movement of our best people from unit to unit, school to school, and institution to institution, is the best way to strengthen that network.  People should flow within and across organizations as easily as ideas. If anything, we don’t have enough circulation of our best people.  
Reason 4 - Your People Will Spread Your Philosophy:
If you help your best people leave they will take something with them.  They will take your philosophy of management and your ideas about leadership.  We need to develop a cadre of postsecondary leaders and emerging leaders who determined to change our higher ed business as usual.  We operate within a marketplace of ideas, and an essential way to have your ideas spread is to send the people that you have mentored out into the world.
Reason 5 - Your Access to Positive Employment Incentives (Like Bonuses) Is Limited - Career Mentoring Is Not:
How much wiggle room do you have to give performance based incentives to your highest performers? If you are a manager in higher ed, I’m guessing not that much. The reality is that higher ed is operating in an environment of scarcity - a situation that does not look to get any better in our working lifetimes. Nor are upward career paths very well defined amongst non-faculty educators and professionals at most institutions. Often, the only way to move up is if someone else leaves. The best way to balance out your constraints in giving promotions or raises is to help your best people get jobs with better titles and higher pay. If that means helping them get these jobs somewhere else at the university, or at another university, than so be it.
Reason 6 - Your Own Career Is Dependent on Your Higher Ed Network:
Our higher education world is amazingly small.  The further up your career you go the smaller that world becomes. The person that you help get a great gig today will be the person that helps you tomorrow.  You may work with the same people at a totally different organization. You will find yourself collaborating with the people who used to work for you in ways that you can’t imagine today. If we think of our direct reports as professional colleagues we change our frame of reference. Success in higher education increasingly means developing a good reputation amongst our peers and colleagues. When it comes to careers, the good news is that helping others is the best way to help yourself.
What is the culture around helping employees find great opportunities at your institution?
Do you feel that your boss will help you find a better job, even if that better job is somewhere else?


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