How You Can Keep Your Employees From Becoming Your Competitors


Fresh talent in your company can soon turn into a rival for your business. If you manage your team well, however, new blood can become your greatest asset. Competition has always been the name of the game, but even more so nowadays.

Technological advancement is driving market change at a frenetic pace. New opportunities are opening up. Traditional markets are harder to enter, and to make things more arduous, many of your competitors might be being nurtured inside your own company.

Employers are naturally and quite rightly keen to hire the best, and there is no shortage of gifted young people to choose from. The universities and technical colleges are turning out no end of smart, inventive and motivated people. They are assets to your enterprise, but they may also be a risk. You take them, train them, coach them, impart the benefit of your experience, knowledge and acumen, only to see them leave and set up business for themselves. They might even be stealing your customers and ideas. To adapt Shakespeare, ‘how sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless apprentice!’

Treating Your Employees as Partners

Setting up shop is particularly easy for the tech-savvy nowadays, with crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter (according to Wikipedia there were over 2000 accounts in 2016.) Before you know it, you now have a competitor with skills you taught them, inside knowledge, and funding. After you’ve taken the dagger from your heart, you’re assessing the damage and possibly picking up the phone to call your lawyer.

To avoid this scenario you could simply refuse to hire the best people. This of course is not an option likely to profit you. Hiring is a risk, but no human enterprise is ever without risk. Of course, there is also no success without risk. After all, you got to where you are by gambling on your prospects.

“The biggest risk is not taking risk …in a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking any risks.”
-Mark Zuckerberg

But you needn’t be afraid of harboring a potential viper in your bosom. Not if you’re shrewd about it. You certainly should not be nervous about recruiting the top minds. The answer is to manage your employees smartly. There are things that can be done to remove or minimize any cause that might motivate employees to leave and set up business for themselves. Offer competitive salaries. Honor their contracts and conditions of employment. Be generous in doing so. Acknowledge their contributions.

Most importantly, however, treat them as members of your team. Encourage them to boldly and proudly share ownership of the goals, processes, and successes of your company. It is wise to treat these young people not as potential competitors but as partners. ‘Treat employees like partners and they act like partners’ (Fred Allen). They can provide fresh perspectives and insight. They usually connect with the up and coming generation much better than their employers, who often adhere to more traditional ways of business.

Young employees can give you a lot, and in return they gain the benefit of your experience and acumen. This partnership creates interdependence. A company where personnel draw strength from each other is less likely to fragment than one run on an authoritarian model.

Fresh Talent, Fresh Voices

Listen to your young employees. Much of the time they may be speaking from inexperience or saying things that you heard many times before, but fresh, open minds can be insightful and may inspire new lines of thought. Sometimes, a glorious idea may emerge that may change your way of thinking, and perhaps, the world. This might require some humility, but if you learn something, isn’t that good for you and your company?

Equally important, give your employees their freedom. You’ve hired the best, so let them get on with doing the best. You’re very much involved, creating the best environment for them. Your involvement is important, vital in fact but you don’t need to stand over them. The power of your leadership rests in the ability to inspire your people.

‘You have to enable and empower people to make decisions independent of you. As I’ve learned, each person on a team is an extension of your leadership; if they feel empowered by you they will magnify your power to lead.’
-Tom Ridge

Employers should remember too that the most talented people do not necessarily come from the top universities and colleges. Bill Gates was a college dropout, as was Mark Zuckerberg. Ability, inventiveness, expertise and savvy may make up for the loftiest degree. Companies in general do not spend enough time identifying talent as distinct from prestigious qualifications. There may be minds that could be profoundly creative with a little coaching and training. Be aware of who is working for you. Notice them. Get to know them. Spot the talent and encourage it.

Tolerating Failure

A point can be made too in favor of tolerating failures. Failure rightly accepted brings resilience, and resilience is the foundation of success. ‘Failure comes part and parcel with invention’ (Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of

If you’ve hired wisely, you haven’t just hired a source of labor. You’ve hired a mind. You’ve hired creativity, drive, a person who wants to succeed. Engage that person. Inspire that employee. Give them an opportunity. Make that employee want to succeed with you and no one else. Be an employer who can motivate a team. The genius of management does not lie in the ability to control, but in the power to motivate.

‘Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine.’
-Chris Hadfield

If you can see your employers shine you need have little fear of losing them. In fact, you may even attract a few more.

About the author:

Amanda Wilson is a college student with a passion for writing, a freelance writer at PaperWriten. Her targeting topics are youth with their issues and writing solutions. As an artistic nature, she finds inspiration in traveling around the country, reading books in order to develop some brand new theory and gaining any type experience thanks to curiosity.