December 29, 2006

What Do You Do When An Outstanding Employee Announces She Is Leaving The Company?

Assume you manage a team that has an outstanding employee. This individual earns $45,000 a year, and is a great candidate for a future management position. Unfortunately, there are no management positions available for this person to progress toward.

As a leader, you have done as much as you can to help this person grow, professionally. At this time, the individual is compensated outside of the salary band your compensation department set for this job title. In other words, the individual is no longer eligible for significant salary increases.

This morning, the employee enters your office, and tells you that she has accepted a job with a competitor of yours. This is a lateral move for the employee, the job is not a management position. She will earn $60,000 a year.

As a leader, how would you respond to this situation? How do you deal with this threat? Do you promote the individual, and if you do, why didn't you promote the individual before the threat existed? Do you match or beat the salary, in spite of the stated salary band for this job --- and if you choose to match or beat the salary, why didn't you fight for this prior to the employee threatening to leave? Do you simply wish the employee the best in her new endeavor, weakening your department and weakening your company?

What are your thoughts on finding creative ways to keep your best talent, ways that mitigate the risks of a salary structure and promotional structure that limits career development within your company?

I see this problem as a huge challenge in the multichannel retail industry, over the next several years. Are there clever ways to combat these challenges?