By | Abhijit Bhaduri |Keynote speaker, Author and Columnist
Some of India’s top business houses have entered into informal pacts that prevent key managers from joining rivals. Recruiters are being told by companies to avoid poaching senior executives from direct competitors.
In the epic Mahabharata, the warrior king Arjuna vows to slay Jayadratha before sunset on the 14th day of the war. Jayadrath had killed Arjuna’s son. The grief-stricken Arjuna said that he would immolate himself if Jayadrath lived past sunset. Krishna covered the sun with his divine powers and Jayadrath came out of hiding. At that moment Krishna made the sun reappear and Arjuna killed Jayadrath. Everything is fair in love and war, they say.
Do the rules of war apply to talent?
We do use the phrase, “war for talent”; but is it a war? No it is not.
What being in an ad agency taught me
In most industries, the top two or three keep poaching talent from each other and create a revolving door. As the HR Director for Mudra, a top notch ad agency, attrition was the biggest problem that the industry faced. Poaching talent was common.
One day, an Account Director announced that he was going to join our competitor. We were unhappy with his performance and so we were relieved when he decided to leave on his own. We quietly replaced him with someone who was working for the same competitor. Tit for tat, we thought. A week later, I met the hiring manager of the competitor at a conference. He came up to me and said that he was thankful that we had hired the Account Director they were planning to fire for poor performance!
Build the talent pool – there is no other way
It was the vision of the founders of Mudra that they decided to expand the pool of talent that all agencies could draw from. The result was the setting up of MICA, the School of Ideas India’s Premier B-School for Marketing, Communication, and Creativity in a design-driven and digitally enabled world. (Full disclosure: I am on the MICA Governing Council)
It is a great idea to bring in people from other industries who can bring in new ideas. That should be no more than 20% of the top talent. The rest of the talent pool must be grown internally. Taking a bet in developing the employees is the biggest reassurance that they will get a chance to grow in the same organization.
A covert no-poach agreement is no different from price fixing. The leaders must make the strategic investments that they can sustain in the long run. Building talent is the way forward.
Do you think that developing talent is more ethical and sustainable way to win the talent war? Leave a comment and let me know.
Read the post from Mint Newspaper where Devina Sengupta talks about the covert no-poach agreements cutting across sectors. <read it>
Listen to this podcast where the author of the book The CEO Factory talks about the talent building strategy of Unilever