Are your competitors’ best recruitment officers on your payroll? - Preparing you for the future of work.

Are your competitors’ best recruitment officers on your payroll?

As HR Directors, Talent Managers and employers in general scratch their heads trying to find good talent and then, once having found it, keep it for some length of time so that it can make a worthwhile contribution, the question business leaders should be asking themselves is: who’s really helping our competitors get the talent we’ve trained and developed to work for them?

The obvious answer is: all those head hunters and recruitment professionals who lure our talent away from us. “They’re the ones to blame. It’s all their fault,” most Talent Managers are inclined to think.

But is it ALL their fault?   

They may be the most visible part of the “talent loss” problem you’re grappling with, but they’re only one small cog in a much bigger machine – a machine that may well be located right in your offices …

Who’s REALLY responsible for managing your talent? Is it the Talent Managers? No, it’s not. It’s the people the talent is reporting to. Now, if those managers, to whom your precious talent is reporting, aren’t managing that talent properly, guess where your risk of losing that talent lies? Right in your offices.

Yes, one of the best weapons your competitors have in the War for Talent, is that group of managers and leaders you employ who manage and/or lead that talent badly.

You’ve heard the old cliché that says, “People don’t leave a company, they leave a manager.” Have you ever thought of applying that principle to your managers to test whether your talent might not be leaving their managers?

If they are, that means your competitors’ best recruitment officers are on your payroll! Yes, you’re actually paying people to chase your talent to your competitors.

So, before you point the finger at too many other people and parties, over whom you have no control, for adding to your talent woes, take a good look at the managers inside your organisation who might be contributing to you talent loss.

Of course, this is a sensitive subject as there has to be a level of trust between the employer and the managers it employs to manage its talent. I am therefore not suggesting you start distrusting your managers, start spying on them or try to dig up dirt on them. That’s an immature and unproductive way of approaching things.

Instead, why don’t you start consciously listening to what your talent is saying in your organisation? If productive, engaged people start complaining about, or commenting on, certain attributes or actions of the people to whom they’re reporting, they may be alerting you to a problem that could ultimately result in their walking out of the door and straight into your competitors’ arms.

Again, I am not suggesting you believe, and act on, everything you hear. Sometimes, people just need to vent and you may be the sympathetic ear they need to do so. Sometimes people exaggerate to gain sympathy or win an argument, so you may have to discreetly establish the other party’s side of the story. Once you’ve done that, you then need to apply the “reasonable” test to what is being said of done.

This simple change in your perspective to view your talent problem not as being “out there” but as right within your own four walls enables you to do something about it.

Make sure you develop your managers – and your own management style – so that you are not recruiting for your competition. By ensuring your talent works for managers who are authentic people who take a real and practical interest in helping their direct reports grow and perform to the best of their ability, and recognise their contributions, you will no longer be paying your competitors’ recruitment officers but paying your own people to keep your talent engaged with their work and with the company.

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine,, @HRFuturemag, and assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery.


  1. Join our newsletter to receive all the latest news in the HR space!
  2. Email(*)
    Invalid Input

Contact us

If you have a question or would like to get in touch with us, contact us on +27 11 888 8914 or

Business Hours

We are open:

  • Mon – Fri: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
  • Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: closed