Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hiring an Employee with a Bad Reputation? Is This a Good or Bad Idea?

This morning’s Google News was exciting and prompted me to wonder if hiring an employee that comes with a bad reputation or recommendation is a good idea. The Google News post that inspired me was from Los Angeles Times reporters Shelby Grand and Andrew Blankstein: “Charles Manson, now 77, gets new chance at parole” (link below).

I guess the parole hearing will happen sometime later this month but ten years ago, Manson refused to participate in his last parole hearing stating he was a “prisoner of the political system.” Really dude?

Still, fair is fair and the law is the law and he will again get a chance to receive parole, although the chances of him actually getting it I think are slim to none. Especially when you look at the new photo CNN asked the California Department of Corrections and Corcoran State Prison to release (seen here).

You just can’t get your eyes off that imbedded swastika on his forehead and it reminds me when my one sister was going through those teenage “difficult” years and self-inked “Boo” on her hand. She regrets it now that she’s in her 50s but I would bet huge Mega Millions winnings Charles Manson could care less what’s on his forehead.  But again I digress!

The entire Charles Manson parole story made me start to wonder about employers thinking about hiring a candidate that comes with a bad reputation and even worse—bad recommendations from former employers.

Should You Take the Chance?

I think the answer here on whether you should hire these misfit types is: It depends. For example, back in my entrepreneur days, I hired on a parolee who did time for selling crack cocaine. While inside, he, as many do, became very religious and swore he was on the straight and narrow.

Because I like to believe in second chances, I hired him and he stayed with my company for over 12 years and never had a hiccup. I watched him go from that scared-just-released-look to a proud employee who managed a team of porters at my car dealership—heck at the end, the guy even had business cards. He’d still be with me today if I wasn’t one of Chrysler’s “useless assets” and still had a Chrysler dealership franchise point—but’s that’s another story.

I took a chance on this bad-rap guy but for most candidates, their reputation on the street may kill their chances.

The Good, Bad & the Ugly

Let’s say you’re looking for a manager—in any department—and along comes a guy who has the reputation of being a face-eater. He has been known to scream at employees, would fire on a whim, seems erratic and has no real explanation for his behaviors when questioned. Yet, his education and career efforts had landed him at some top businesses in leadership positions.

Would you hire this person?

Or, say the potential candidate has a bad recommendation from a former employer for workplace bullying and admits it but says she’s changed. Still the word on the street is she’s fired more employees than Donald Trump! There’s even rumors floating around she was barely able to avoid lawsuits from former employees who she intimidated with her power.

Would you hire this person?

There’s another type of candidate and these bad apples come through industry “grapevines.” What I mean here is industries that have high turnover rates and folks jump from job to job. These industries are usually retail or involve some sort of selling and customer service. If a candidate you were interviewing came with a resume filled with five or ten different companies in a short period, meaning he jumped around a lot, you’d probably want to know why. If questioned, the candidate may say things like, “My supervisor didn’t like me” or “I had the highest sales quotas than anyone else but they didn’t appreciate my efforts.” Translation: “I’m a troublemaker!”

Would you hire this person?

Making a Decision

The decision you make when hiring an employee that comes with a bad recommendation or reputation remains a hard one. For me, I’d rather take on the parolee than a face-eater.  You can “mold” these folks where with face-eaters, you get what you get and if you do make the decision to hire, be prepared to handle some problems.

I also recommend assessment testing if you can afford it. You can even obtain personality assessment tests where professionals analyze answered questions and offer their opinion and these can be a real eye-opener when making hiring decisions. Personality testing will reveal a lot.

You also need to utilize a “getting to know each other period.” Make it clear the employee is “in training” and don’t utilize the words “probationary period.” If it doesn’t end up working out, most states follow the “At-Will” clause and you can simply terminate the relationship saying “It wasn’t a good fit.” For cases such as these, make sure you keep documentation on bad behaviors to back up your termination decision.

Have you ever hired someone you regretted hiring? What was the problem and was if fixable or were you forced to terminate the employee? I’d like to know your thoughts.

And, as far as Charles Manson goes, I don’t expect he’ll get parole and even if he did—who in the world would hire this guy? I know, I said I’d rather take a parolee than a face-eater but Charles Manson? Hell no!


LA Times Story – April 5, 2012, “Charles Manson, now 77, gets new chance at parole” retrieved April 5, 2012.

Image Credit: California Department of Corrections / Corcoran State Prison

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more. People, especially those who came from incarceration and with screaming tattoo/s all over their body easily gives out a reputation that can be hardly trusted. Although it may not be fair to prejudge a person, when it is just obvious how they treat themselves, not even a used cars manchester dealership or a roadside cafe would be a safe haven for them to work after they have paid their dues.