Guest post: Take it as a compliment when people poach your staff

Ian Mash of Yeoman Consulting helps us to continue the theme of ‘practical ways to help your business life” by sharing some of his experiences of working at the coalface as a senior manager in one of the UK’s largest companies – BT.

Most businesses are people businesses in some shape or form. You rely on both the skill and intelligence of your staff in any given situation to keep the wheels rolling on the right track. That isn’t to say that those skills can’t be improved though…

It’s a part of any manager’s role to work with his or her people, giving them regular constructive feedback and helping to improve skill gaps. No end of year appraisal should be a surprise to the appraisee. These days there are lots of ways to address skill gaps from the traditional face to face course, through management books to the more modern and innovative online courses like The 8.45 Club. (unprompted – Ed).

Over the years I have only ever had one person push back about learning or improving skills, and that person was almost terminally self critical and lacking in confidence. Over time we addressed this by discussion and their attendance on a course on self perception. Later this manager was able to run and successfully manage a team of 40 disparate staff. The comment was made to me by the manager that they were now doing things that they never thought they would be capable of. It’s great to see this happen.

An important point from my perspective is that this isn’t about finding a course and putting the person on it. You can help to define the skills gap, but they need to take the action to select and get on the course. I hate it when the trainer goes around the room asking why people are there and someone says ‘my boss sent me’. Its not a good start and frequently those people just don’t get as much out of the training.

When you have a high performing team, you’ll know not just from the quality of the output but also from the fact that your colleagues keep poaching your people ‘because they’re so good’. It’s frustrating perhaps, but there is really no bigger compliment.

Ian Mash will be back with more pearls of wisdom in the next couple of weeks and can be contacted on +44 7860 621976 and via email at ian dot mash1 at