Most CEOs are fierce competitors. They love my strategy of “targeting your competitor’s top talent, because hiring them makes you stronger, while your competitors simultaneously get weaker.” It’s a two-for-one deal.
You might assume that most corporate recruiting leaders share their CEO’s high level of competitiveness. But you would be wrong. I find most TA leaders are quite risk averse. However, by actively avoiding the controversy that can be associated with targeted poaching, they are purposely lowering their strategic impacts. Unfortunately, this is a tremendous missed opportunity. Avoiding it means missing out on an entire category of significant business impacts which cover directly decreasing the performance of competitor firms as a result of targeted talent poaching.
Hurting Your Competitor Is a Standard Practice in Most Business Functions
Of course, outside of HR, intense competitiveness is quite common within most business functions. For example, products are developed specifically to counter a competitor’s successful products. And your product’s prices are routinely shifted in order to draw away sales from your competitor’s competing products. Store locations are often picked with a primary goal of reducing the sales at a nearby competitor’s location.
So, if your goal is to increase your business impacts, in my view, it’s time for talent-management leaders to become “fierce competitors” and to adopt a competitive advantage recruiting approach that I call “hire to hurt/learn.” This approach improves your corporate best practice learning and the performance of your workforce while directly reducing a competitor’s performance.
Get Over It; Hiring to Hurt Is Not Uncommon
You might think that hiring to hurt is unusual in the business world, but you would be wrong. In fact, “team lift outs” are quite common in the financial industry. And in Silicon Valley, targeted poaching is not an uncommon practice. For example, there is some evidence to show that Apple directly targeted Google in order to improve its map product. Facebook is currently using big money offers to target a wide variety of Google employees. Uber got into legal issues (because direct secrets were involved) when it poached a leader of its self-driving car project away from Google.
Calculating the Multiple Business Impacts of the Hire-to-Hurt Strategy
Some firms do poach talent away from their competitors, but they only do it indirectly when one of their competitor’s employees decides on their own to apply to the firm. However, compared to this subtle poaching approach, the “hire to hurt/learn” approach has significantly greater impacts because it purposely targets the highest-impact employees and those impacts are targeted to maximize the benefit to your firm […]