Nuance vs. one-size-fits all

Originally posted June 25, 2017.

Some companies have “no rehire” policies. If an employee quits without providing a notice or quits without without leaving on good terms, the company has a policy that makes that employee ineligible for rehire.

I’ve actually even heard of some companies that have a “no rehire” policy for any employee — whether they left on good terms or not.  Most of us would hopefully agree that’s a bit ridiculous.

The first policy sounds good on the surface, but even that is not necessarily a perfect policy.

Suppose an employee left on bad terms because that employee was on drugs and wasn’t acting normally. Then suppose that employee went through rehabilitation and changed his or her life completely. Not only will that employee never use drugs again, but that employee realizes he or she needs to work twice as hard as ever to make up for his past transgression.

Sure, it’s possible that person will never recover and will be in a tailspin for the rest of his or her life. It’s also possible that person has completely changed and will therefore be the best employee you may never have. But you won’t know that, because the company has a “no rehire” policy.

Perhaps more realistically, you had a talented employee leave on poor terms, and later than employee wanted to come back. You may not have someone else nearly as qualified as that employee, but your policy will prohibit you from rehiring that employee. You have to choose the second best candidate, who may take years to train to have the talent of the original employee.

No doubt, no-tolerance policies can be beneficial. It’s a good reminder for employees who quit suddenly that there will be serious repercussions if they leave on bad terms. And failing to address misconduct or poor performance sends the message to other employees that they can follow suit without consequences.

However, when dealing with people it’s helpful to remember that there are all types of nuances in their lives. Thousands of details in their background, circumstances, and personality are affecting their decision making.

The best way to work with people is to understand those nuances to the best of your ability and to work with them as best you can.

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