The fine line between talent hunting and grand mind-theft

When the war over talent is replaced with immoral mind theft, all hell breaks loose. Here’s how to avoid crossing the lines

By Nili Goldfein

One of my biggest clients - a global tech organization, recently breached their contract when they recruited one of our senior consultants while she was still working with us, and presented us with an inappropriate ‘fait accompli’. For the past 27 years we’ve maintained ongoing close relationships with our clients. Naturally, there were instances when a client wished to recruit one of my consultants, and as long as all parties involved would address the issue openly, transparently and within contract, we would always find a fair solution for all. But this time was different. Beyond the blatant breach of contract and a sad day at court, we felt betrayed by the grand theft that both sides orchestrated right under our noses. We refused to continue working with the client from that day on. Fortunately, the only thing we lost was money. The client, on the other hand, lost an excellent service provider, and both the client and the talent lost their good reputation.

Not all is fair in love and war

In face of today’s war over talent and the pressure for better business results, corporations compete over the shiniest stars in the employment market. But when pressure rises, survival behaviors emerge in the cracks between demand and supply, and fair competition is replaced with desperate measures of grand mind-theft. While there’s nothing wrong with appealing to excellent people and trying to lure them into your organization, you might want to consider the fine line between legitimate and immoral recruitment actions. Crossing this line is bad for business, bad for the industry and even bad for the ‘stolen’ talent. “Employees have the right to improve their work status, while companies have the right to protect their investment in talent and trade secrets” says Attorney Yuval Givon, whose law firm specializes in today’s war over talent. “However, when employees ignore a signed contract or a reasonable cooling transitional period in the name of ‘freedom of occupation’, their reputation will be questioned and even stained.” On the other hand, corporates should keep in mind that that a fundamental breach of contract with an employee or a service provider may sabotage communications with great talent and great services in the future, as business markets, just like a fraternity house, are filled with rumors.

“Karma is a bitch”

Before signing a contract, both parties should carefully examine their mutual business obligations and object to clauses that might be difficult to honor in the future. This will save time, money, and trouble for both sides, while keeping their good reputation intact. Regardless of contracts and law, we should also keep in mind the cause and effect of our actions on our fate, otherwise referred to as Karma. When money and power outweigh ethics and values, Karma is bound to backfire.

Nili Goldfein — EVP Marketing & Business Development at NGG Global Consulting Solutions, specializing in Leadership and Management in a World of Disruption.

Nili Goldfein is EVP Business Development & Marketing for NGG Global Consulting. With over 30 years in the field she is creating and running global business.