January 18, 2010

Mark McGwire and the Glass Industry

By Paul Bieber

I must really be hurting on subjects for this blog if I have to stoop to cheap headlines like this. Mark McGwire doesn’t know what float glass is anymore than I can hit a fast ball out of the park.

So What Gives?

Do you ever have an employee leave you and then at some point in the future, reapply to work for you? What do you do?

If you have black-and-white policy, such as never rehire, you may be depriving yourself of good talent. You should look at returning talent just as seriously as you would an initial hire.

While running my company, we had a history of taking back former employees, and were almost always ahead of the game. I got burned on a couple of occasions that prove the rule about a tiger and his stripes, but for the most part, Ralph Returner did a great job.

Let’s look at why:

  • When Ralph comes back and asks to work for you again, he knows all the problems and the good parts of your firm. Ralph is telling you the good outweigh the bad. In your interview, ask Ralph what these points are. You will get the best answers ever in learning these points about your company.
  • Why did Ralph come back, after all. Did he think the grass was greener, and learn that it wasn’t? Did he come back slightly humbled and understanding that there is no place like home? This is a great time to rehire Ralph, as he will tell your current crop of malcontents that your company is the best one out there. If he went out there saying he was going to start his own business; putting you out of business. He won’t come back to you too quickly. Most people with that attitude won’t admit their failure. They will go onto other fields. But the ones that do come back, and can act professionally about, will be great assets.
  • What if you had to fire Ralph? And now he is back. Look back and review the incidents. Was it a serious problem, or something that gets forgotten with a little time? Was it Ralph’s pride, or maybe yours, getting in the way of good business decisions? If that is the case, hire him now.
  • Of course, if Ralph stole from you, intentionally hurt someone, drove your truck drunk, or any of a whole litany of bad things, you are not going to rehire. The people we are talking about in this blog are those that don’t make into your top ten worst employee list.
  • Think back to when Ralph left…was he a gentleman and did he give you proper notice? Did he help train his replacement? By all means, if he did leave on a good note, hire him. Working in a glass company is not guaranteed to be a job for life. People will always want to see what else life offers, and all you can do is wish them good luck. If Ralph comes back, he has learned you are a good company. He has the potential to become your best employee from then on.

There are many good reasons for someone to leave your shop…maybe a conflict in working hours with their spouse, or a chance to join a family business. Whatever the reason, keep an open mind, and if you do get the opportunity to rehire, do it.