Re-recruiting employees

Photo by bgottsab


Adam Bryant conducted an interview with Linda Heasley, president and chief executive of The Limited, and published it on The New York Times. Interesting interview overall and I loved this quote:

Q. And what’s your philosophy of leadership?

A. I believe that it’s not about me. I believe it’s very much about the team. I believe that my associates can work anywhere they want, and my job is to re-recruit them every day and give them a reason to choose to work for us and for me as opposed to anybody else.

So it’s about making it fun. It’s about making it exciting. It’s about keeping them marketable. I encourage people: “Go out and find out what the market bears. You should do that and then come back and help me figure out what you need in your development that you’re not getting, because we owe you that.”

Usually managers, consciously or unconsciously believe that everybody working with them should be thankful. That going out looking for alternatives is a kind of betrayal. I wrote in the past on the tendency of managers to look at the people working with them as serfs. If you are the king, everybody needs to be loyal to you. But just like the best kings in the fairy tales, the best managers understand, that the power of a manager comes not from fear and blind loyalty, but from giving, trusting and serving others. The manager is the serf and not the other way around.

Bruce Temkin wrote about the same quote from this interview in his blog:

This is the right attitude. Every manager should take on the personal responsibility of making their team members continuously chose to be on their team. Often times, that means preparing them with skills to leave the team… or to leave the company. When you can no longer re-recruit someone, it’s probably time for him/her to leave.

I agree. By treating employees like partners and not like subordinates we let go of the fear and enjoy the benefits of trust and human connection. Yes, some will leave. Yes, some will take advantage of you. But most won’t. Most will revel in the trust you put in them and will reach levels of performance unparalleled because you, as a manger, are there to make sure that they have what they need and because you both know that they are there as a result of a choice.


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