Addition by Subtraction: The Art of Career Management

by Melany Gallant | Posted | Career Management

Addition by Subtraction: The Art of Career Management

In an employment context, you might think that “addition by subtraction” has a rather ominous sound to it. In fact, if you read between the lines, it usually means someone is getting fired.

But not so fast.

Addition by subtraction is actually a good thing–and it has nothing to do with handing out pinks slips. Instead, it’s about becoming an exporter of talent–a topic that Mike Figliuolo, Managing Director, thoughtLEADERS, LLC discusses in his blog post, How to Build You Team by Getting Rid of Your People.

Figliuolo talks about developing people by growing their skills and responsibilities, and making them more valuable in the organization. So valuable, in fact, that other leaders want to “poach” them (but they won’t because this would be terribly bad form).

Anyway, you get the idea.

A good leader will fulfill his or her obligation to develop employees to the point where they’re ready to (happily) move on in their careers. A good leader will also be able to fill in the gaps left by a departing employee by nurturing, developing and engaging remaining employees. Gaining a strong reputation as a good manager as a result.

Yes, you can be in the talent export (and import) business too

Building a better team through talent export all comes down to fostering employee development.

While most companies do a good job of identifying talent, what many don’t do is properly develop the talent they worked so hard to acquire. Not surprisingly, it’s those companies that tend to fall behind.

According to Human Capital Institute, it costs roughly 1/30 the amount of time and money to develop an excellent person as opposed to hiring his or her replacement–a compelling argument for focusing your time and effort on employee development.

Companies that have strong development programs in place send a positive message to their employees, creating higher morale, engagement, and productivity, while giving employees a tangible reason to maintain high levels of effort.

These employees know their efforts won’t go unnoticed, and they know that they won’t be held back if something more attractive, exciting and challenging them comes along.

Tips for getting rid of your people

Good people managers know how to “get rid of their people”. To be an exporter of talent you need to:

1. Recognize that almost everyone on your team wants to grow.

2. Expand the skills and scope of your team members.

3. Let other managers know you’ve got a fantastic A-player on your team.

4. If an opportunity comes up, encourage him or her to go.

5. Repeat process!

As a manager, and exporter of talent, should you be worried about losing your best people?

The answer is no.

While there will be a significant hole to fill on your team, Figliuolo advises not to worry. Others within your organization will come knocking at your door asking to be part of your team.

Why? Because you have a reputation as a good people manager–one who offers challenging and meaningful development opportunities that help people move on (and up) in their careers.

So, the bottom line here is that when you become an exporter of talent you actually start to attract and import new talent, creating what Figliuolo refers to as a “virtuous circle” of employee development within your organization. Sounds like a good strategy, doesn’t it?

Are you already an exporter of talent? Do you have best practices to share? We’d like to hear from you.




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