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A client called me last week to discuss the following and keep in mind my recent post about how some firms don’t pay enough (good) attention to their people. He told me:

A key manager with one of our competitors called, she said her employer takes her for granted, doesn’t treat her with respect, and she wants to come and work for me. (This is what happens when you create the right culture.)

She also mentioned she was sure some of her customers would come with her because she has the relationship and there is no non-compete or no non-solicitation clause with her employer.

My clients question to me was, if and after he hired her, is it was ethical to go after her customers?

My reply was “That’s business.” They didn’t have her sign a non-solicitation agreement so if you do it positively and above board it’s okay. And I reminded him that after his second acquisition one of the firm’s employees left and did the same thing.

My example was, if she goes to her customers and says, “I’ve found a better opportunity for you and me with XYZ company and I’d like to talk to you about why I feel it’s better for you” it’s okay. If she goes and badmouths her previous employer it’s wrong, it won’t impress her customers, and it could damage his culture.

What do you think? Would you handle this any differently?

BTW, he has all his people sign a non-solicitation agreement.

“Truth exists; only likes are invented.” Georges Braque

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