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Bad Hiring Practices

 

I posted these recollections on a forum that’s oriented toward mechanics and car guys, and the responses have been interesting, to say the least.

It’s been many years since I managed a large printing facility in San Antonio. We had a large work force (for the industry) and paid top dollar in the area for equipment operators, mechanics, and warehouse workers. Every time we had even a janitor position open we would get 20+ applications, in addition to people who just walked in and applied for any openings.

Over the years I saw incredible things happen to people we interviewed or hired. The most common bad practice was I would make an offer to a skilled guy, and they would ask when they could start. I would tell them as soon as they were available but that we understood they had to give notice at their current job. Probably half the time the guy would go back and put in his two-week notice and the employer would fire him on the spot. For some reason it seemed as if mechanics had this happen to them more than other trades. Why would you treat someone like this? All your other employees will hear about it, and loyalty will naturally suffer.

The other one I remember clearly is that one day a manager from another division of the company (at the same location as me) was at a local fast food place and noticed a cashier who was really hustling. Impressed, he handed her his card and said call him if she was interested in a better paying job. Now, entry-level jobs with us were a good 50 percent higher than what she was being paid. Her manager saw it happen and asked her what it was about. This was a San Antonio based fast food company.

The manager called up his chain until their CEO called our CEO, who actually called the other manager (my peer — he had told me about it because he was excited at spotting talent like that) and told him it was in appropriate to try to hire someone that way. The girl was as smart as we thought; she waited a couple of months and came in and filled out an application, and became a very valuable (and well paid) employee. The fast food place is a big San Antonio based barbecue chain (not franchised); there were very few big companies headquartered in San Antonio so all the CEOs knew each other and moved in the same circles.

I still can’t get over management behavior in these situations. I always thought it was the American way — work hard, get ahead. If you are scared that your employees will jump ship you are doing something very wrong. And if you resent an employee for taking a better opportunity someplace else, you are just a jerk.

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There are 37 comments.

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  1. Member

    Odd it isn’t it that an employer may fire an employee at any time without notice, but if an employee leaves for a better position without giving notice the employer feels betrayed.

    • #1
    • September 13, 2018 at 8:16 am
    • 9 likes
  2. Member

    I read a wonderful book years ago about the Ritz-Carlton. The company treats all of its employees with respect, living each day by the maxim to treat others the way you would want to be treated. The result has been extraordinary. In an industry that sees some of the highest employment turnover rates among all industries, the Ritz-Carlton sees almost none. And it has its pick of job candidates. The work standards are so high for Ritz-Carlton that one could safely expect employees to leave the company. But that’s not the case. They stay for years and years. 

    The Ritz-Carlton “hires for attitude and trains for skill.” And the people at the Ritz-Carlton who interview and hire employees are very clear about their standards. It’s like working for Downton Abbey. It’s not for everyone. Yet Ritz-Carlton employees actually appreciate the investment the company makes in them, and they appreciate working in a respectful environment. 

    Ritz-Carlton employees treat the guests with the same respect they’ve been treated with.

    When I interact with a business whose employees are rude or uninvolved, I know it is upper management that’s to blame.

    • #2
    • September 13, 2018 at 8:31 am
    • 7 likes
  3. Member

    Tex929rr: Probably half the time the guy would go back and put in his two week notice and the employer would fire him on the spot.

    Depends on what they are doing. I used to work for a company where that had been the policy. By the time I left, it had become manager discretion, so some folks served out their notice. The basic thinking was:

    • We don’t want them messing things up on the way out.
    • We aren’t going to get that much work out of them, and they will be a disruption in that notice period.

    Of course, that was in a programming environment, and the cogs were fairly interchangeable.

    • #3
    • September 13, 2018 at 8:31 am
    • 6 likes
  4. Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Tex929rr: Probably half the time the guy would go back and put in his two week notice and the employer would fire him on the spot.

    Depends on what they are doing. I used to work for a company where that had been the policy. By the time I left, it had become manager discretion, so some folks served out their notice. The basic thinking was:

    • We don’t want them messing things up on the way out.
    • We aren’t going to get that much work out of them, and they will be a disruption in that notice period.

    Of course, that was in a programming environment, and the cogs were fairly interchangeable.

    I’ve seen that too. Those are legitimate concerns on the part of management.

    Sometimes it’s spiteful, but other times there are good reasons to get the person out the door as quickly as possible.

    • #4
    • September 13, 2018 at 8:33 am
    • 1 like
  5. Member

    I hired a guy that way and he stayed 25 years. The company I hired him from closed a couple of years later. We always joked that me taking him away closed them up. They had been in business for over 100 years.

    • #5
    • September 13, 2018 at 9:01 am
    • 10 likes
  6. Member

    Tex929rr: e guy would go back and put in his two week notice and the employer would fire him on the spot. For some reason it seemed as if mechanics had this happen to them more than other trades. Why would you treat someone like this?

    I had that happen to me years ago, only this was an office job where I had my own set of clients that I would have liked to help transition to the next person. I guess if you are in some type of business where they think you might try to sneak out company secrets, but in most jobs that is not the case.

    • #6
    • September 13, 2018 at 9:11 am
    • 1 like
  7. Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Tex929rr: Probably half the time the guy would go back and put in his two week notice and the employer would fire him on the spot.

    Depends on what they are doing. I used to work for a company where that had been the policy. By the time I left, it had become manager discretion, so some folks served out their notice. The basic thinking was:

    • We don’t want them messing things up on the way out.
    • We aren’t going to get that much work out of them, and they will be a disruption in that notice period.

    Of course, that was in a programming environment, and the cogs were fairly interchangeable.

    If I’m going to mess things up on the way out I’m not going to let the company know by giving two week’s notice first.

    Question for Tex; did you notice any difference in the employees who were fired this way? The first thing I thought of is that it might be a guy with an otherwise good-looking record whom they were nonetheless happy to get rid of.

    Another question; what were the unemployment rules like? In the great State of Wisconsin you don’t get unemployment benefits if you’re fired. Maybe that’s not what the managers were going for, but was there some other regulation that might have influenced that decision?

    • #7
    • September 13, 2018 at 9:30 am
    • 1 like
  8. Coolidge
    Tex929rr Post author

    Hank Rhody, Red Hunter (View Comment):

    Question for Tex; did you notice any difference in the employees who were fired this way? The first thing I thought of is that it might be a guy with an otherwise good-looking record whom they were nonetheless happy to get rid of.

    Another question; what were the unemployment rules like? In the great State of Wisconsin you don’t get unemployment benefits if you’re fired. Maybe that’s not what the managers were going for, but was there some other regulation that might have influenced that decision?

    Not that I could see. We were very selective about new hires; our pay was so good that we could afford to be. We had very low turnover and while I was there our business was always growing.

    At the time, Texas law allowed unemployment for every termination unless it was for cause.

    I don’t think it was for regulatory reasons; most of those managers just seemed furious that someone would leave. 

    • #8
    • September 13, 2018 at 9:37 am
    • 2 likes
  9. Member

    Hank Rhody, Red Hunter (View Comment):
    Another question; what were the unemployment rules like? In the great State of Wisconsin you don’t get unemployment benefits if you’re fired. Maybe that’s not what the managers were going for, but was there some other regulation that might have influenced that decision?

    What would it matter? They’ve already got a new job.

    • #9
    • September 13, 2018 at 9:39 am
    • 1 like
  10. Member

    Tex929rr: I still can’t get over management behavior in these situations. I always thought it was the American way – work hard, get ahead. If you are scared that your employees will jump ship you are doing something very wrong. And if you resent an employee for taking a better opportunity someplace else, you are just a prick.

    I think it’s reasonable, if you have good employees, to be scared they’ll leave. What’s unreasonable is acting the way you described. The proper action to take is to ask what would keep them working for you, and see if you can come to terms.

    • #10
    • September 13, 2018 at 9:42 am
    • 5 likes
  11. Coolidge

    Nevermind. Over-sharing.

    • #11
    • September 13, 2018 at 9:47 am
    • 2 likes
  12. Moderator

    I had an employee recently give notice. I let him serve out his 2 weeks, congratulated him on the better offer, and he did fine. Of course, I wasn’t interested in retaining him (so made no attempt at all to match the offer), and it was clear he had never been a good fit here. But he was a decent guy, if not particularly effective at his job here. And he had gotten a bad review letting him know as much some months before with a request to up his game, which he clearly was not doing. I rather expected him to leave at some point.

    On the other hand, some years ago I had an employee also give notice, and I had been wanting to fire them for 2 years prior but was blocked by one of my partners from doing so (they were a good liar). This employee was toxic and had alienated the entire company except that one partner. We could not let them serve out their 2 weeks and made them leave at one week because they did take that time to be even more toxic and awful. I’d have escorted them out the day they served notice. In the months that followed, as the toxicity of this person was revealed in my cleaning up of their mess, I had a lot of gloating “I told you so” moments with the partner who had protected them.

    Another employee had to be escorted out on the spot because we did not want them to have any opportunity to siphon off data or contacts when we canned them.

    It really all depends on the employee, the job, and whether sensitive data could be at risk. If an employee was giving notice to work for a competitor, they’d go immediately without even being allowed back to their desk.

    As for recruiting, well, it all depends there too. Sometimes you meet someone interesting at their job, and it is worth dropping a card. Sometimes it is not. I’ve had head-hunters call in here, or email, and try to pry employees away – I’m annoyed when it happens, but either my employees like working here or they don’t. If, however, I find an employee has been circulating their CV behind my back, I do let them know I’m aware of it. We had one head hunter try ruthlessly to poach a valued employee, and there the right approach was to work to improve that employee’s situation and address their hitherto unvoiced complaints – they were worth keeping.

    It’s all a game, though.

    • #12
    • September 13, 2018 at 10:13 am
    • 7 likes
  13. Coolidge

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    If, however, I find an employee has been circulating their CV behind my back, I do let them know I’m aware of it.

    Are you talking about an employee looking for a better job in some unethical way? Could you be more specific? Just curious.

    • #13
    • September 13, 2018 at 10:46 am
    • 2 likes
  14. Moderator

    Joshua Bissey (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    If, however, I find an employee has been circulating their CV behind my back, I do let them know I’m aware of it.

    Are you talking about an employee looking for a better job in some unethical way? Could you be more specific? Just curious.

    I don’t necessarily consider it unethical, but I would want to know why they are doing it. And, depending on the sensitivity of any proprietary information they have at hand, I’d even consider it alarming. That they are doing so is a sign of something:

    • They are unhappy with their current job – in such case it’s always good to find out why. Are they unhappy with something specific? Their co-workers? Their duties? Their commute? Me personally?
    • They’re content enough, but want more money. Are they worth it? Can I afford it?
    • They’re up to something. Better to put the brakes on right away.
    • Are they job hunting on company time? That’s a firing offense.
    • Are they hunting with competitors, suppliers or customers? That could be a firing offense too.

    Regardless, it’s always good to find out.

    • #14
    • September 13, 2018 at 11:37 am
    • 4 likes
  15. Reagan

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Tex929rr: e guy would go back and put in his two week notice and the employer would fire him on the spot. For some reason it seemed as if mechanics had this happen to them more than other trades. Why would you treat someone like this?

    I had that happen to me years ago, only this was an office job where I had my own set of clients that I would have liked to help transition to the next person. I guess if you are in some type of business where they think you might try to sneak out company secrets, but in most jobs that is not the case.

    BTW How is the job hunt going?

    • #15
    • September 13, 2018 at 11:41 am
    • 1 like
  16. Member

    I had a really good kid work night shift cleanup while going to college. He worked days in the summer so he knew everyone in the plant. He took criminal justice at Pitt. When he graduated he became a deputy Sheriff. One day he came to my office in uniform and asked to go see some of his friends while everyone was on break. When he went back about half of my employees ran out the back door. Child support, overdue tickets, that kind of thing. I asked that next time he came to be dressed in civilian clothing. Cost me some down time rounding everyone back up.

    • #16
    • September 13, 2018 at 11:53 am
    • 15 likes
  17. Thatcher

    I’ve had it go both ways. One employer was worried that I would be recruiting for my new bosses. I wouldn’t. One went into panic mode, made an ill-considered counter offer, but acquiesced to the inevitable and had me train my replacement for two weeks. This consisted mainly of typing up the procedure for booting the various test systems and their proper configurations. My replacement had never learned to tread cursive.

    Then there was the time that I gave notice over my shoulder on my way out of the door. Not terribly professional, but justified under the circumstances.

    • #17
    • September 13, 2018 at 2:15 pm
    • 8 likes
  18. Member

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    I had a really good kid work night shift cleanup while going to college. He worked days in the summer so he knew everyone in the plant. He took criminal justice at Pitt. When he graduated he became a deputy Sheriff. One day he came to my office in uniform and asked to go see some of his friends while everyone was on break. When he went back about half of my employees ran out the back door. Child support, overdue tickets, that kind of thing. I asked that next time he came to be dressed in civilian clothing. Cost me some down time rounding everyone back up.

    I’m sure that it was not to you at the time, but that is funny right there.

    • #18
    • September 13, 2018 at 2:18 pm
    • 4 likes
  19. Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    Another employee had to be escorted out on the spot because we did not want them to have any opportunity to siphon off data or contacts when we canned them.

    When firing, it’s one thing. But if someone is giving notice, and if they are that kind of person, they already have all the data before giving notice.

    • #19
    • September 13, 2018 at 2:21 pm
    • 6 likes
  20. Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    . . .

    It really all depends on the employee, the job, and whether sensitive data could be at risk. If an employee was giving notice to work for a competitor, they’d go immediately without even being allowed back to their desk.

    . . . 

    I’ve seen a variety of such circumstances, and agree it depends on the employee and the job.

    • #20
    • September 13, 2018 at 3:06 pm
    • 3 likes
  21. Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Joshua Bissey (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    If, however, I find an employee has been circulating their CV behind my back, I do let them know I’m aware of it.

    Are you talking about an employee looking for a better job in some unethical way? Could you be more specific? Just curious.

    I don’t necessarily consider it unethical, but I would want to know why they are doing it. And, depending on the sensitivity of any proprietary information they have at hand, I’d even consider it alarming. That they are doing so is a sign of something:

    • They are unhappy with their current job – in such case it’s always good to find out why. Are they unhappy with something specific? Their co-workers? Their duties? Their commute? Me personally?
    • They’re content enough, but want more money. Are they worth it? Can I afford it?
    • They’re up to something. Better to put the brakes on right away.
    • Are they job hunting on company time? That’s a firing offense.
    • Are they hunting with competitors, suppliers or customers? That could be a firing offense too.

    Regardless, it’s always good to find out.

    I’m not sure I would have cared whether they told me, but I was always pretty confident that if the employees in my group wanted something I could provide, they would let me know (they were pretty good at recognizing that I was often as frustrated as they were at the corporate constraints we all worked under). I also was pretty open that I would not feel threatened if they went looking, as I had also done so, and had come back after an interview at another company that I had a relatively good deal where I was, or that I’d just be changing one set of problems for another set. 

    • #21
    • September 13, 2018 at 3:12 pm
    • 3 likes
  22. Member

    The episode with the cashier at the fast food joint is an example of bad management behavior. If the fast food joint can’t offer what will meet the employee’s capabilities, the employee will become unhappy regardless of whether your company offered to interview her. If she would do better at your company than she would at the fast food restaurant, she will figure that out on her own, and she will be gone anyway, whether you hire her or she finds another company for which her energy and work capabilities are better suited. The fast food joint’s CEO is not, in the long term, keeping an employee; he is breeding bad employee morale (because employees will find out what is going on).

    • #22
    • September 13, 2018 at 3:18 pm
    • 6 likes
  23. Member

    Tex929rr: I still can’t get over management behavior in these situations. I always thought it was the American way — work hard, get ahead. If you are scared that your employees will jump ship you are doing something very wrong. And if you resent an employee for taking a better opportunity someplace else, you are just a jerk.

    Sometimes it is just plain ruthlessness in the quest to stay ahead.

    Apple, Google, others settle antipoaching lawsuit for $415 million

    Filed by former employees of the companies involved, the lawsuit shed a light on the practice of some major tech industry players of allegedly working together to agree not to poach employees from each other. The affected employees had argued that such agreements limited their ability to rise up in the industry and stifled their attempts to earn higher salaries. Email exchanges among such top executives as late Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs and former Google CEO and now executive chairman of Alphabet Eric Schmidt revealed how requests were made not to hire certain employees away from each other.

    • #23
    • September 13, 2018 at 3:22 pm
    • 5 likes
  24. Thatcher

    In 2015, our company went through a “total transformation”. Since then, people have been leaving in droves, from production people up to and including the president of our division. And the company made no effort to keep any one of them. And now, when the labor market is really tight, they are complaining that they cannot hire suitable employees for job openings. We long-timers just look at each other and nod knowingly.

    • #24
    • September 13, 2018 at 7:37 pm
    • 7 likes
  25. Moderator

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    but I was always pretty confident that if the employees in my group wanted something I could provide, they would let me know

    I’ve had a few people who were really bad at vocalizing complaints. Nothing for weeks, then they’d blow up at me. “OK, you feel better now? You could have told me weeks ago, you know.” For those people I just let ’em vent at me (as long as it doesn’t cross the line), 

    • #25
    • September 14, 2018 at 4:11 am
    • 3 likes
  26. Member

    GLDIII (View Comment):

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Tex929rr: e guy would go back and put in his two week notice and the employer would fire him on the spot. For some reason it seemed as if mechanics had this happen to them more than other trades. Why would you treat someone like this?

    I had that happen to me years ago, only this was an office job where I had my own set of clients that I would have liked to help transition to the next person. I guess if you are in some type of business where they think you might try to sneak out company secrets, but in most jobs that is not the case.

    BTW How is the job hunt going?

    Nothing yet but thanks for asking. Have an interview that might be promising.

    There actually seems to be a lot out there, it is just finding a good fit (or an actual human to speak to to convince that you would be a good fit).

    • #26
    • September 14, 2018 at 5:11 am
    • 4 likes
  27. Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    I had a really good kid work night shift cleanup while going to college. He worked days in the summer so he knew everyone in the plant. He took criminal justice at Pitt. When he graduated he became a deputy Sheriff. One day he came to my office in uniform and asked to go see some of his friends while everyone was on break. When he went back about half of my employees ran out the back door. Child support, overdue tickets, that kind of thing. I asked that next time he came to be dressed in civilian clothing. Cost me some down time rounding everyone back up.

    I’m sure that it was not to you at the time, but that is funny right there.

    No it was funny at the time. Got to get your laughter when you can. It’s the funny things I remember. Guess I black out the really bad things.

    • #27
    • September 14, 2018 at 6:17 am
    • 6 likes
  28. Member

    My entertaining episode was comparing notes with my then-boss as we were both applying for the same job at another company. We worked in a profession that was [still is] fairly small (patent law) and in which in-house corporation jobs (as opposed to law firm jobs) for which we senior level managing attorneys would be suited were few, so we almost always all knew when a job was open and who might be appropriate for it. The open job then was such a clear opportunity for both of us that it would have reflected badly on each of us if we didn’t apply. Neither of us got it.

    One of my fellow managers even brought to the attention of one of our mid-level attorneysa job at another organization, which job the mid-level attorney did apply for and get. My fellow manager knew that in the shrinking company and with the General Counsel holding certain strong attitudes on “diversity,” growth and advancement opportunities at our company for that [white male] mid-level attorney were non-existent. My fellow manager suggested the other job rather than have to deal with the mid-level attorney becoming an increasingly frustrated employee.

    • #28
    • September 14, 2018 at 9:52 am
    • 3 likes
  29. Coolidge

    I heard about a young lady that quit her job by going to the restroom, and never coming back. There was a restroom that could be accessed through the classroom she worked in, or via the hallway. She stepped into the restroom, closed the door behind her, and went right on through to the hallway, and out into the parking lot, never to be seen again.

    • #29
    • September 14, 2018 at 10:14 am
    • 4 likes
  30. Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    My entertaining episode was comparing notes with my then-boss as we were both applying for the same job at another company.

    Did you learn anything interesting comparing notes?

    • #30
    • September 14, 2018 at 10:26 am
    • Like
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