December 2, 2015

Is Swiping Your Competitors’ Employees a Good Strategy?

TrailTired of working for your employer and making money for the company? Think you know what makes the business successful? Maybe it’s time to try your hand at running your own business. After all, why should your boss make all of the money when you do all of the work, right?

As market conditions continue to improve and business opportunities increase, the lure of becoming your own boss and venturing into business for yourself grows more powerful. This increase in market activity also creates competitive pressures on existing firms to either grow or risk being rubbed out by new entrants in the market.

Startups and existing firms may begin to look around at their competition – particularly at the employees of their competition. Who at these competitive firms is contributing to the success of the company? Some might consider the possibility of luring away key members of their competitors’ staffs.

Bringing on someone who was successful at a competitor’s business has some perceived benefits. Business owners may be tempted to believe that if they attract a top performer from their competitor to their firm, then success is almost assured. Or they may theorize that if they can take away their competitor’s key players, they can do damage to that competitor and then overtake it in the market.

But there are pitfalls to this approach. A strategy that aims to sink a competitor’s business by snagging key employees and expecting success overlooks the enormous importance of culture to any employee’s success.

When founding a company or leading an existing firm, business leaders are responsible for creating an environment or culture that creates the greatest chance for success for the company’s employees.

Here are three recommendations regarding company culture that all business leaders should keep in mind – especially those who are thinking about going after their competitors’ employees:

1. Create Your Own Culture

Culture cannot be copied. It must be developed. It is a unique aspect of a company and is the result of many combined factors. Drawing in employees from competitors with the assumption that they will automatically succeed in your company – or that they will bring your competitor’s successful culture with them – is a good way to put your own firm at risk.

Culture arises from a combination of forces, including the personalities of team members, the founding mission and vision of the company, the core values of the founder, and the sequence of experiences that have impacted that company. These cannot be duplicated – nor can they necessarily be altered quickly at will.

2. Consider Culture When Hiring

ForestEmployees are the products of their unique personal and professional histories. Their responses to their surroundings and the culture of the company that they work for contributes to their successes.

Employers should consider culture when evaluating a prospective hire. Making the assumption that a potential employee will be successful at your company because they were successful at their last company can lead to disaster. Consider first whether or not the candidate is a good match for your company’s culture.

3. Be Purposeful When Developing a Culture

A culture is must be designed and implemented with purpose. A leader or founder must consciously decide what type of company they want to create, operate, and lead. Culture cannot be left to chance. If it is, you may not end up with the kind of culture your company needs to succeed.

Decide what you want your business to become and represent. Be purposeful in developing your culture so that the culture directs and drives the activities of the business and its employees.

Cash is important. It has been called the lifeblood of a company. Without it, the daily demands on the business cannot be met. But a healthy, vital body requires a heart to circulate blood. And as a heart is to the body, culture is to a company.

A version of this article originally appeared on BusinessCollective.

Christophor Jurin is the founder and CEO of Construct-Ed, Inc., an eLearning technology startup that aims to empower members of the construction industry through training and learning opportunities.

Read more in Organizational Culture

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