Planning to Poach Your Competitor’s Employee? Here are 5 Dangers to Beware of

Sometimes as a growing company you need specialist employees to join your team and they aren’t found so easily on the street. You might have advertised for the position but still on the lookout for that experienced hand that will slot easily into the job and help trigger the growth you need. Perhaps you have identified a couple of staff members of a competitor or a corporate partner. You know they are exactly what you need skill and experience wise. The problem is they are already working, are well paid and probably not looking to leave for anywhere else.

Poaching is a game frowned upon by some but nevertheless very heavily played especially in the tech related business and financial business world. Nothing makes CEOs happier than bringing in a super employee from a competitor who knows the onions of the industry and comes with years of industry experience. Still poaching is not something done only by companies in competition with each other; Organisations poach employees of their business partners, associates and non-competitors all the time.

In case you are considering poaching a few of another organisation’s employees here are things and issues to be aware of as they could well result in time-wasting and expensive litigation involving your firm. A company I was involved with was considering poaching the employee of a corporate supplier but realised on time the presence of some issues that would have landed the company in some little problems. It is better you are aware and find your way around them. Also provided are some hidden costs and dangers you should look out for while considering poaching an employee.

1. Check for Anti-Employee Poaching and Soliciting Clauses in Agreements and Service Partnerships

More and more organisations are learning to protect themselves from having their people especially the highly skilled stolen from under their nose. To this end when they enter into partnerships and associate deals with other complementing organisations they insert clauses that will make it illegal or difficult (without risking litigation) for the partnering business to steal their best hands. However the lettering of these documents mean that you can still work your way around them if you know how. The underlying factor is not to be seen as soliciting for the employee to make the switch.

Go through service and partnership agreements to discover if your organisation is totally barred from hiring the staff of the other organisation (some organisations can go as long as inserting clauses that seek to block yours from taking on their employees). Watching out for these clauses in all your agreements will ensure you do not walk into litigation for breach of contract.

2. Is That Employee Really Good or Looks Good?

A respected HR consultants advises that company HR heads think through their plan of poaching a particular staff from another company. He says poaching companies should dig deep for proof of the target candidate’s expertise and ability to blend in with their own team members.

Its useless bringing in a poached employee and realising that, despite his brilliance and experience, he is more of a headache working with other important members of the team. Even if they look good on paper that doesn’t mean they’ll do great with your company.

The key is do serious background checks, talk to people who can give insights on his personality. You want to be sure you are not bringing in another organisation’s headache.

3. Be on the Lookout for Non-Compete Agreements

For some employees you might be interested in poaching you have to be sure they are not in anyway restricted by their employees through the employment contracts from jumping ship to aggressive competitors like your company via a non-compete agreement. This could especially occur if the employee is a key member and possibly holds stake in the target company.

4. Watch Your Back

If you are playing the poaching game your competitors may either catch up to your tactics or are even already planning to poach your best people. Either way you should realise you are always open to being poached. So take the time to be in touch with your key players and treat them the best you can. If you build enough loyalty among them then you worries will be few.

5. Being Too Forward, Desperate or Getting Caught

This simply means you should never be too forward in courting a competitor’s employee. If you can afford it hire a HR firm to neutrally reach out to the target person. Otherwise when you do it yourself you must make contact on neutral ground such as at events. Throw it as an open proposition and lay down just enough information to make them follow up if they are interested. Don’t however look desperate to sign on that candidate else if he understands you need him so badly the power will be in his hands. Discretion is key to not messing things up here.

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