Choose your own adventure: You own a business in a competitive field. You want to, one day, be the absolute best in your field, but you know you’ve got a lot of work to do to get there. You’re striving to create a great working environment so that the top minds in your chosen industry will be attracted to your organization — not only by the potential your company shows, but also because they know they’ll be treated better working for you than if they worked for anybody else.
Now let’s say you’ve managed to hire someone from a rival. This someone is a little lacking in experience at the position you hire him for, but there’s a consensus in the industry that he’s going to be great once he gets some practice.
A year passes. The guy you’ve hired has made some questionable moves, but damn it, he’s showing the potential everybody knows he has.
Meanwhile, the rival from which you hired the employee suddenly has an opening and they want your man. They’ve got a chance to conquer the industry as early as next year and they want him to help lead them to the top.
If he wants to leave, do you stop him?
Keep in mind that if he wants to go, and you don’t let him, the atmosphere in your workplace is going to take a dive. The guy doesn’t want to be there — and everybody knows it.
What do you do?
Is John Farrell going to leave the Blue Jays to manage the Red Sox? Only John Farrell knows.
If I’m Alex Anthopoulos, and if Farrell wants to go, I absolutely let him. Why poison the clubhouse like that? Why risk a big, big dent in the reputation of being a great place to work?
It’d definitely be tempting to prevent Boston from poaching the manager, if the Red Sox do indeed want to do that, but that’s an urge that’s got to be resisted.
Maybe offering Farrell some more money would get him to stay if he’s considering leaving. Maybe improving the team would get him to stay if he’s considering leaving. Those moves would be fine. Simply saying “you can’t go because I say so”? That’s not good enough. Not if you’re trying to build something real.