The Manager I Fired Last Month Is Trying To Steal My Employees

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.

A business owner from Massachusetts called me the other day to tell me that the underperforming Manager he fired several weeks ago is now aggressively recruiting current company employees to join him at his new employer. While we have all experienced this predicament, and we know it will always occur, like the business owner it still takes us aback in that it represents personal disloyalty, institutional theft, and emotional revenge against the business owner.

It just does.

It always will.

Knowing this condition may occur at any time, the company can take proactive and reactive steps to minimize significant loss. First, though I know you don’t believe me, the company culture is a fundamental driver of employee retention, even when more money is involved. The degree to which the company’s culture represents a results-based team-oriented approach, the more likely employees will remain with the company despite external temptation. Positive energy, a clean and safe work environment (e.g., tools, equipment, uniforms, vehicles), and interpersonal respect in conjunction with rewards, recognition, and professional growth are the stewards of an employer of choice.

Aside from the proactive elements of organizational culture-based retention, there are also proactive administrative prohibitions that foster employee retention, most notably the Employee Confidentiality, Non-disclosure, and Non-solicitation Agreement each employee should sign during his/her New Employee Orientation. It is important to note that this document is frequently confused with a Non-Compete Agreement, both of which are subject to precise scrutiny in accordance with specific state laws.

Frequently drafted by a Human Resources professional or attorney, the lengthy Employee Confidentiality, Non-disclosure, and Non-solicitation Agreement stipulates various restrictions onto current employees across myriad topics to protect the company’s resources including proprietary information, client lists, and conspicuously, current employees, against misuse and corporate espionage.

With reference to the Massachusetts business owner, his Employee Confidentiality, Non-disclosure, and Non-solicitation Agreement appropriately contained the following essential language:

Employee will not within twenty-four (24) months after Employee’s employment with the Company terminates, without the Company’s express written consent, directly or indirectly hire, solicit, recruit, or induce to leave the employ of the Company any employee, agent, independent contractor, or consultant of the Company.

Beyond that language, another proactive strategy to impede employee tampering, is that many companies now distribute a signed copy of the employee’s actual Employee Confidentiality, Non-disclosure, and Non-solicitation Agreement to the employee at the time of dismissal as a reminder of the terms the employee pledged to uphold.

Alas, for the Massachusetts case, despite the signed document, the unethical manager still attempted to lure employees from his former company. Accordingly, a reactive approach to prevent employee solicitation had to be invoked.

Accordingly, I instructed the business owner to contact external legal counsel immediately and draft a “Cease and Desist” letter addressed to the former employee and the owner of his current company, with an attached copy of the employee’s signed Employee Confidentiality, Non-disclosure, and Non-solicitation Agreement. This formal correspondence puts the other owner on notice regarding possible legal implications of continued solicitation violations, as well as alerts the current business owner of the unethical actions being demonstrated by the newest member of his management team.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.