Why The Best Leaders Encourage Employees to Leave, According to a Boss Who Does It

Encourage your employees to seek work elsewhere is a sign of good leadership, says this manager.

Woman at office


Taylor Tobin
Taylor Tobin1.84k

From a manager’s perspective, it seems counterintuitive to urge your stronger employees to consider applying for positions at other companies. After all, you want to keep your high performers fully in-the-fold rather than encouraging them to seek alternative options, right?

Surprisingly enough, CMO Ryan Bonnici of G2 Crowd sees merit in supporting an employee’s interest in external job offers. Bonnici explained his philosophy on the subject to Harvard Business Review, and the following points present intriguing arguments in favor of his position.

1. It communicates an interest in the employee’s development, not just in the company’s bottom line.

Bonnici specifically references millennial employees in his HBR piece, explaining that younger workers are particularly motivated by opportunities for growth in the workplace. They want to learn and to progress, and managers who encourage active development prove popular and effective among this employee demographic. 

Bonnici explains his choice to support outside exploration for employees like this: “When I make clear to my employees that I want them to consider all options for their careers, they see that I’m genuinely committed to helping them learn and grow. They know it’s not lip service; I care about their development. If I think they’ve gotten to the top of their learning curve on my team, and I can’t figure out a way to help them grow, I will support their efforts to get a job somewhere else.”

2. It encourages genuine communication between managers and employees.

An interest in career growth often leads to employees investigating opportunities both within and without their current companies. However, if a manager establishes a troubling dynamic that punishes or penalizes workers for looking elsewhere, then they’re compromising the potential for strong and genuine communication in the workplace. 

According to Bonnici, “by showing my team that I want to support them either way, I am creating a culture in which my employees feel comfortable sharing every career step with me. This open dialog gives me time and opportunity to find a way to keep them.”

3. It allows employees and companies to part ways on good terms.

When the time comes for an employee and a company to part ways, most employers vastly prefer an amicable split. This helps them maintain a good reputation within their industry, allowing them to attract top talent. Therefore, a manager who supports her employees, even when they’re looking for other work, will positively contribute to her company’s standing among potential hires, clients, and industry peers. Also, a positive split between an employee and her employer can keep the door open for that employee’s return; Bonnici explains that “boomerang” employees (who leave a company temporarily, but ultimately choose to come back) are on the rise, and “a goodbye party for an employee may turn out to have been a “farewell for now.” If you can help them feel that the place they’re leaving is something of a work “home,” they just might return.”


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