Periodically, we ask three HR pros how they’d handle a difficult situation at work. Today’s problem: An upper-level exec asks HR to engage in some shady hiring practices.
“Ah, Stu, right on time,” said CEO Margaret Hurley as HR manager Stu Capper closed Margaret’s office door behind him. “Take a seat.”
Stu already had a good idea why Margaret had called him into her office – and he wasn’t looking forward to the conversation.
Margaret slid a file folder across her desk. “Here are some people we’ve met at conferences and trade shows,” she said. “Give each of them a call and see how they’d feel about coming to work here.”
‘I know we disagree on this’
Stu was ready for the request – this wasn’t the first time Alice had given him a handful of people to poach from their competition.
“With all due respect,” said Stu, “I want to mention one more time how I feel about this. I’m not sure it’s a great idea to steal workers from other companies, even if there are no rules that prohibit it.”
“I know we disagree on this,” said Margaret. “But the way I see it, if there’s someone who can help us become an even better company, it’s our duty to try to get them on board.”
“I understand,” said Stu. “But keep in mind that if we do this, there’s nothing preventing other companies from doing the exact same thing to us.”
Is it necessary to succeed?
“Stu, it’s called competition,” said Margaret. “This is what we have to do to be successful, period.”
If you were Stu, what would you do or say next?
What your peers had to say
A director of HR from New York
What she would do: I’d continue trying to convince Margaret that it’s not a good idea to steal staffers from our competition.
Reason: We’re a small industry, and when this happened to us, it was really rough.
If it’s a big industry, it might not matter as much, but in a small industry, it’s important to remember how devastating poaching can be to the company that’s affected. I’d try to make that clear to Margaret.
A director of career connections in Florida
What he’d would do: I’d conduct research on the people Margaret suggested I talk to. Then I’d reach out to the qualified people and schedule networking meetings.
Reason: I’m against poaching, though there’s a middle ground you can strike.
If these people we’re looking at still have jobs and they’re not actively looking for work, there’s a good chance they haven’t locked down their social media profiles.
Conducting research on them might turn up something that would give us a legitimate reason to not consider them.
For the people who still qualified, it’d be best to set up a networking meeting instead of coming right out with a job offer.
Only if they make a mention of looking for work would I then say something about potentially coming to work for us.
An HR manager in Pennsylvania
What she’d would do: If Margaret insists, I’d do it, but I’d do it under protest.
Reason: Sometimes you have to do what you have to do, even if you don’t agree with it. That’s how I feel about poaching.
At the same time, I’m lucky that I have a great relationship with our CEO. I think if I made my reservations clear, my CEO would really take my concerns into consideration.