People, Talent, Teams

Q&A: Vampire on the payroll

Joseph Harrington of Ultimo, New South Wales asks:

I just conducted an interview with a managing director of one of our major competitors, a private company. He is obviously unhappy there, did nothing but criticise them and even showed me their profit and loss reports. Was I wrong to look at them? This executive seems energetic and knowledgeable. However, I’m torn between his skill and disloyalty. Should I employ him?

Kenelm Tonkin
, Chairman, Tonkin Corporation answers:

If the profit and loss is publicly available, then there is no problem even accepting a copy of your rival’s financial information. It is already in the public domain and your candidate is doing nothing wrong nor are you. You might question his constant criticisms though.

However, your major competitor is a private company and it seems very unlikely that the profit and loss you saw is in the public domain. If this is correct, then the answer to both your questions is an emphatic no.

First, while it is true you cannot help it if someone puts confidential information in front of you, your response thereafter is very much in your hands and a matter of character. Do not take or make a copy of this information. Play a straight bat with this. You would never like your rivals to take your proprietary information and, undoubtedly, they will have some sanction against you and certainly their managing director if you did.

Second, it would be an amazingly bad decision to witness an incumbent managing director breach his fiduciary duty to his current company by disseminating information to you in this unauthorised manner and then employ him. You are playing with fire. If he can do such a terrible thing to one company, he will have no hesitation turning on yours when convenient to him.

What you can glean from this experience, however, is that your competitor is making basic mistakes when recruiting its key people.

print Print email Email to a friend

Latest Thoughts

Besides profit, what makes your business successful?
3 Golden rules for scaling your business
Managing international employees
Collaborative strategies with competitors
In defence of entrepreneurial self-reliance
Starting a new job: some advice!
How to find a good accountant
The customer is not always right
Young entrepreneurs at the lemonade stand
image description