Develop your own team

Poaching employees from competitors is not really long-term strategy for success. Instead I suggest companies should focus on building talent from within by investing in training and development programs. Not only does that provide a flow of new staff, nurturing your existing workforce enables you to  build a more cohesive and loyal team that is better equipped to drive long term success.

Training your team to drive success

The temptation to poach highly-qualified employees from your competitors can seem undeniable at times. On paper, the advantages of doing this are many. You are robbing your competition of valued team members, debilitating their operating strength. At the same time, you are gaining a qualified, fully-trained and potentially experienced employee for your own team.

You already know the value of experience, making such an addition a genuine asset to your workforce. Any training or acclimatisation period will be negligible, as their skills and experience enable them to step neatly into their new role.

At this point it might seem like I am writing an article advocating such acquisitions, but this is not the case. In reality, regularly poaching from competitors’ work pools can be a costly and crippling mistake.

So, with all these apparent perks, why shouldn’t you do it?


The bottom line with most business decisions, cost is a striking factor here. Hiring for skills and experience will set you back financially on a good day. Doing so from a competitor’s workforce exaggerates this cost even further.

A valued employee will more than likely be sitting on a salary that reflects their competency. Their current employers will know just how important these individuals are to their business management. Sensible companies look to retain these key staff, and pay accordingly. Already, you will be looking to offer above and beyond their market worth in order to tempt and therefore facilitate the transition from their company to yours.

Before you have even hired your new employee, your profit margins are suffering. And what if they can’t recoup their extravagant costs?


You cannot accurately assess an employee’s worth without having worked with them beforehand. Even thorough interview processes rarely comprise of more than half a dozen interviews. While these are critical for gauging an applicant’s skills, demeanour and competence, they give no accurate reflection of how the potential employee would work in your company, with your team. Their worth will always be an approximation.

This does not matter so much when you hire small, as the salaries you offer for these roles will most likely be modest, but the prospect of having to sink large sums into the acquisition of employees whom you cannot confidently vouch for should make any competent MD stop and pause.

Think about how much these individuals can really offer your company, and whether they are worth investing huge salaries into in order to poach. The chances are, they’re not.

Professional promiscuity

If an employee can be tempted from their current company to yours, what is to stop someone else persuading them to do the same? Trust and loyalty should be top of your list of desirable character traits when interviewing for candidates, yet by poaching an employee from another company, you are already highlighting them as being professionally promiscuous.

They will doubtless champion their integrity when interviewing, but actions speak louder than words. You wouldn’t accept promiscuity in any other area of your life, so why should your business be different?

So where can I find accomplished staff?

The solution is a simple one: you should build talent, not buy it.

A real leader is someone who attracts willing followers, someone with the ability to motivate, develop and retain a cohesive team of skilled, driven and loyal employees. This quality is a huge asset, especially in today’s fast-paced business world.

Leading examples

IBM is an excellent example of a company with a strong sales training programme. As manufacturers and marketers of computer hardware and software, they offer infrastructure, hosting and consulting services for companies involved in these industries, sharing their expertise in order to build stronger teams.

Similarly, Xerox’s successful leadership programmes in areas surrounding managed print services is what makes them a world-leading brand. Clearly, the best companies are not those that poach staff from competitors but those who maximise on their existing workforce.

Training and development is synonymous with planning, but as a proactive, leadership driven manager, you know to expect this. Demonstrating the patience to work with your team and mould them into more proficient, effective workers is the best way of securing your company’s future (and its profits).

Distance yourself from professionally suspect employees and nurture your existing team towards a stronger, more successful business.