Re-hire After A Falling Out?


By Jas Singh

Last week in an interview with CNN Money, John Sculley the man most famous for firing Steve Jobs finally expressed his regret in not burying the hatchet sooner.


“I wish in hindsight I had reached back to Steve and told him, ‘I want to help you come back to Apple,'” Sculley told CNN Money. He even admitted Apple wouldn’t have struggled as much during the late 90’s had he brought back Jobs quicker.

Which got me thinking. Does re-hiring someone after a “fall-out” work?

Like everything there are pro’s and con’s, but here are a few of the important factors to consider when making “boomerang hires”:



The Advantages

Like any relationship, adversity either makes your stronger or destroys you. There have been many examples in all types of organisations (businesses, politics, sports and even families) where public disagreement is followed by public reconciliation and an even stronger partnership.

Steve Jobs is perhaps the most famous examples of this. Jose Mourinho, the manager of Chelsea Football club is another after his well publicised bust-up with Roman Abramovich owner of Chelsea. The advantages of re-hiring an old employee (even after a falling out) are clear. They are much more likely to know the business and will get up-and-running quicker. Since they are already known to management, the employees strengths and weaknesses will also be better known. Depending on the personality and reputation of the former employee, other members of the team can also be given a much needed lift.

But it’s not quite as simple as that. In fact, often re-hiring can be disastrous…



The Disadvantages

Perhaps one of the most biggest barrier to re-hiring after an internal falling out is the impact on other existing team members. Firstly, there is always the “loyalty” factor – in the western business world in particular it is considered controversial to hire people who wanted to leave the company in the first place. Some companies (such as the leading financial news company Bloomberg) even have policies not to hire ex-employees. Also depending on the circumstances hiring disruptive ex-employees can even be considered to set a bad example to others on the team.

But maybe the biggest problem to re-hiring after a fall-out is that often it is a short-term view. Numerous studies have shown that behaviour change is actually very uncommon and that most people’s actions are pretty consistent throughout life. If you don’t get on, you’re more likely to keep falling out unless at least one person makes a concious change.

Furthermore, the risk associated with another fallout could also considered too great – and even put the hiring manager’s own position at risk.




The truth is that there are no simple rules ob re-hiring after a fall-out: there are numerous examples of both fairytale success stories and “what-were-you-thinking” disasters.

The main thing hiring managers need to identify is change. Have I (the hiring manager) or they (the candidate) changed to make sure we can learn and grow from this?

Only then will it work.

Anyone you would like to re-hire? :)


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