You are going to hate me for this one because I am going to tell you that you should WANT your best people to leave you. No, I am not nuts. I am simply a pragmatist.
Think about it. If you have a true superstar, that once every 10 year person… can you really afford to pay him or her once he/she reaches their potential? Be honest – you can’t!
Therefore, you either hold them back in hopes that it takes them longer to figure out they have more potential than you can provide, or they leave on bad terms because they realize you are trying to hold them back.
Here’s a better option: You let them grow as fast as they can. You harness the power of their rising stardom. You nurture and grow them and pay them as much as you can as long as you can. Then, you help them get that better job and celebrate it.
Now you have undying loyalty and gratitude from an employee that knows they could not have gotten there without you.
Think I am nuts? Accounting firms have done this for years. They hire the best and brightest out of school in huge numbers, knowing that only a fraction of them will be working there in 5 years. Then they work hard to help these young auditors get jobs at their clients for big raises and big promotions. Why? Because guess who the auditor will be for that client?
Here’s the bottom line: Ask yourself, do your best people quit you or do you graduate them? There is no 3rd option. If they are quitting you, you are failing them and yourself. You can do better for them and your company will prosper as well.