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Associate Professor JR Keller

Bosses, Don’t Hoard the Talent!

Managers tend to hold onto their superstars, and that’s not good for the employees, organizations or managers, according to research by ILR Associate Professor JR Keller and Kathryn Dlugos, M.S. ’17, Ph.D. ’20.

“Why You Should Let Your Favorite Employee Move to Another Team” features findings from a study of nearly 100,000 internal applications submitted to about 10,000 open jobs posted by more than 3,000 hiring managers at one U.S. company.

In an article published today in the MIT Sloan Management Review, ILR Associate Professor JR Keller and Kathryn Dlugos M.S. ’17, Ph.D. ’20 said they have spoken about hoarding with managers at dozens of companies worldwide. “ … and every single one of them has (often sheepishly) admitted to holding on to at least one employee longer than necessary.”

Organizations, employees and managers themselves benefit when the best employees are allowed to move onto another team, said Keller and Dlugos, who shared takeaways from their years of study on talent hoarding:

  • Managers must be willing to give up talent if they wish to become talent magnets. 
  • Letting people move on is good for organizations and managers.
  • Employees know which managers hoard talent. 
  • Hoarding is costly. 


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