Back when I was in the restaurant biz, I developed a reputation as the guy who could handle the problem children. (Translation: I developed a reputation as a sucker.) In retrospect, that has probably been a factor in the downfall of a lot of my jobs. I would take the worst worker of the bunch, give them way too many chances, and get screwed every time. They say the definition of insanity…
I could have nipped it in the bud. Back in my earliest days of management, I went to my HR manager with a request for a re-hire. She said,
“Now T, I’m not going to tell you that you can’t rehire G. I will tell you this, rehiring an old employee is like getting back with an old girlfriend. The longer you are spit up, the less like you are to remember what caused the break. But the troubles will always return, and usually worse than before.”
Don’t you know it’s true? It’s easy to re-hire someone who you’ve worked with before. You don’t have to train them. But if they left under bad circumstances, they will likely do so again. And it’s just as painful every time.