If there's one truth in any industry, it's that good people don't grow on trees. So, Maurice Forde, of Forde Windows & Remodeling in Northbrook, Ill., knew he couldn't let one of his best lead carpenters just walk out the door to go into business on his own.

Forde sat down with his lead and discovered that the carpenter was looking for more of a project manager role. The two mapped out a one-year plan and created a schedule that would facilitate that change.

Yet it was only a month or so before the lead called Forde one night and said he wouldn't be coming in to work anymore. Forde had hired extra people as backup, so the company was OK without the lead, but nonetheless the one-year plan had failed.

The lesson learned? "Once somebody has their mind made up, it's only a matter of time," Forde says. "You almost can't stop them from leaving."

Still, Forde says that if he were faced with a similar situation again, he'd do whatever he could to keep the person from leaving. "If it's a good employee, it's always worth a shot."