I’m not a huge NBA fan, but I do follow it casually. Hey, it’s sports and I like sports. And when stories involve my hometown Indiana Pacers, I pay attention. Yesterday, Pacers superstar Paul George stated his intentions to leave the organization after next season. His contract expires and he will hit free agency. As a California kid, he wants to play for the LA Lakers and enjoy the LA lifestyle. Many fans will vilify him and claim he’s not loyal. Paul George just gave the Pacers the gift of openness and honesty.
Imagine a scenario where your top talent gave you and your organization feedback throughout the year. She lets you know when she’s being challenged, when she’s bored or frustrated, and helps you identify other top talent in the industry to bring to your team. When you ask how she’s doing and what her career goals and aspirations are, she lets you know that she wants to go work for Google or SalesForce in the Valley. She gives you a timeframe, commits to being s rock star while she’s still with your organization, and always produces.
Imagine you as the leader listening to this information. You provide her with everything your organization is capable to give her given your budget and resources and market capability. You give her challenges, a great salary, and an environment to grow her skills and be able to prepare herself for the next level or career move. You’re able to have a solid succession plan to prepare for her moving on and you are able to continue to cultivate and attract that next group of superstars.
Paul George is doing exactly this. It’s been no secret about his desire to play on the west coast. It’s also been no secret about his frustrations with the Pacers organization’s lack of moves to bring in some strong talent to help them win. Maybe they have tried. And maybe they just can’t attract the ‘A’ list players who would prefer to take their talents to South Beach, New York, or the west coast. George is giving the Pacers a chance to plan for the future. They can now work with other teams to find a trade to be able to get some value and future draft picks instead of just letting him walk into free agency. They’re dodging a PR nightmare bullet. And they will be better off for it.
Your best talent will always be sought after and looking for an opportunity to get better and maximize their opportunity. Your organization will not always be able to provide that for them. But you can provide them with an enriching and meaningful experience while they are with you. And they will learn a lot from you and be able to take that somewhere else.
By having open and honest career conversations, both parties can plan for the future and have a positive experience. Your employer brand will be better for this type of work environment.