Monday 10 January 2011

Exit as the Keystone to a Retention / Partnership process


  As I noted in my previous post, both my workshop group’s thinking on retention processes, and my previous notes on career partnership, suggest that retention / partnership consist of a series of sub-processes, particularly head hunting; delivering the deal; proactive exit and alumni management.

I find it interesting that I came to the same conclusion about retention through by a process perspective and a more intuitive one.

But what I find yet more interesting is what the process perspective suggests about the role of the proactive exit sub-process, supporting points I’d already made in response to my earlier responses to comments on my hack at the MIX.

And that is, that out of all four sub-processes, it is the proactive exit one that is key.  In fact, I’ve begun to think about this as being like the keystone in a bridge.  All of the other sub-processes stand on their own – the proactive exit one only makes sense when placed within this cyclical retention /  partnership process (this is the reason that the proactive exit sub-process seems so odd).  But it when this sub-process is combined with the others that the whole retention / partnership process starts to really work (becoming more strategic and proactive).




And also please note that, as of today (Monday 10th January), you’ve still got 9 days to comment / vote on my proposed hack on the MIX.


Photo credit: John S Turner


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1 comment:

  1. Jon,

    Let’s say for the basis that a firm should want to retain an individual if they have a predicted positive life-time value (ie the value that they provide over their predicted time left with the firm is greater than the life-time cost that their employment may incur. Note that this doesn’t mean that their current value > current cost). Implicitly, I believe, the managed exit solution presumes that life-time value is high, but can be most effectively maximised by encouraging the employee to leave in the short term.

    There are firms, including but not limited to, some professional services firms who have a proactive exit process. The driver is that the employee has greater predicted value as a happy ex-employee than a current employee. As you note these approaches are often linked to alumni practices. In most instances future value is seen to be created as happy employees transition to future clients.

    There are also firms that provide sabbaticals to staff or loan them to other organizations, such as not-for-profits. Of course large firms may offer similar approaches but to other group companies, to key suppliers, or as is quite common in firms with important R&D functions, to universities. These approaches are designed to reduce the risk that employees return which is a key condition to the success of your proposed model.

    A key issue I have with your suggested approach is that I see it articulated as a binary ‘ currently employed / not employed’ choice whereas many firms are flexing that, effectively blurring the boundaries of employment. The flex working used by many German firms in the last few years could be seen in this model as could the ‘loaning’ approaches I mention above.

    Secondly I believe that the model may be over-estimating the likelihood that the firm can attract someone back. Of course you could model this using a survival analysis type approach. There is a risk that the next employer is better at providing the individual a more promising future than you could.

    Third, the model I believe over-estimates the value that the employee creates themselves individually, in comparison to the value created through their participation in relationships with other employees. If, and I propose for many knowledge workers their value is created in the relationships with colleagues, then breaking these working relationships may create long-term value loss. Given the dynamic nature of organizations there is no guarantee that this value would be recreated when they come back.. Boris Groysberg’s recent book ‘Chasing Starts - the myth of talent and the portability of performance’ is excellent as an overview. Loaning can maintain these relationships in a way that an employee going to a competitor can’t.

    This may sound that I am dismissive of your suggestion - I am not, but I believe the way to make it manageable is through the blurring / ‘loaning’ approach that is seen in several industries. I guess the most public of these is the loaning type relationship that sports teams use, especially with their young players under development. I also believe that your approach / thinking has a large implication for internal mobility policies.

    As for retention, for me the key approach is to predict employees most at risk of leaving, why they are at risk and to have a process to manage those risks before the resignation occurs. I wrote about this a few weeks ago: There is a bit at the end about re-recruiting staff.


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