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Whose Interests Are You Looking Out For?

Wordpress (1200 x 628) #150

“Today, power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it.” – Dharmesh Shah

“Can I talk to you for a minute?” The message from Prasad appears in Slack.  You jump on a call and he tells you about a conversation with Aliyah, one of your peers on the marketing team, regarding a role she has open and he is interested in transferring. 

You’ve probably been there. And if you haven’t, you will.  Feeling slighted, shocked, frustrated, and angry, you begin to search for answers to questions like “What did I do wrong?” “Why would he want to leave the team?” “How could Aliyah do this to me?” Prasad is a rock-solid performer; he would really be letting the team down if he transferred. Finally, you realize that you can make it all go away by blocking the transfer.  Surely an understaffed and overburdened team won’t contribute to organizational success.

Let’s explore the argument:

If you can’t backfill, your team will be overburdened…. Or will it? A great leader would recognize this as an opportunity to rebalance the workload.  Based on the regular performance and development conversations she has been having with the team, she is aware of opportunities and projects each team member would like to get more involved in to grow their skill set. New sets of eyes will likely uncover inefficiencies and find creative new approaches to the way things have been done.

If you do get approval for headcount it will take too long finding someone: While there will be some effort required, a great leader would see this as an opportunity to add new perspectives and skills to the team, while giving his team members experience with the recruiting process.  Any time there is an open headcount he would take a hard look at the needs of the team and the organization  – not just for now, but for the future – and work to bring someone who would provide long-term and enterprise-wide value. He would know that it is a waste of time and effort to “put a butt in a seat.” 

Blocking the transfer is in your team’s best interest: although it might seem like the path of least resistance, talent hoarding is a surefire way to lose great team members. When an individual feels as if they have stalled, or there are no signs of promotions anytime soon, a great leader knows that internal mobility provides cross-functional experience, new skills, and another organizational perspective. It may just be exactly what they need to stay engaged, help them grow, and see a continued career path with your organization. This is also a win for the company because there is much faster ramp-up with internal transfers, and cross-functional knowledge sharing breaks down associative barriers and fuels innovation, and creativity. Your company gets to retain a valuable employee and you’re a hero; win-win.

This week’s inquiry…

When have you made a decision that was good for the team, but not for the organization as a whole?

Dive Deeper…

Pat Lencioni, author of classic leadership fable “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” shares three simple virtues of the ideal team player through a Venn diagram (who doesn’t love a good Venn diagram??).

“It’s time that we changed the way we thought about success as a society”

Lencioni presents a practical framework and actionable tools for identifying, hiring, and developing ideal team players.  Whether you’re a leader trying to create a culture around teamwork, a staffing professional looking to hire real team players, or a team player wanting to improve yourself, this book will prove to be as useful as it is compelling.

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