The current issue of Fortune Small Business contains a fascinating cover story of ’employees from hell’ who’ve wreaked havoc on their employers. There’s everything from a drunk forklift driver who smashes walls and parties with hookers to a Benedict Arnold-like sales manager who tries to steal every one of the firm’s clients and employees away from the owner.
The article got me thinking about some of the real gems we’ve hired over the years, including:
– one disenchanted employee who conducted her job interviews right over the phone in her cube
– a senior executive who, after negotiating a partnership package with us for months, turned around and quit right after we made the announcement.
– a middle manager who allegedly ‘lost’ her laptop in Port Authority right after we’d fired her
– a management supervisor who went postal in a new business pitch and screamed at the prospect, ‘Look this is war and if you have to carve out the guts of your competitors, you carve out their guts!’
– an account executive who, after less than three months in the job, came into my office and told me it was ‘time to renegotiate his compensation package.’
Truth be told, most of these ’employees from hell’ worked for us during the dotcom heydays. That said, with the significant uptick in the economy, I have noticed a new sense of entitlement and boorish behavior just starting to once again rear its ugly head.
Prospective employees know the marketplace is red hot again and more than one has reneged on an offer at the last second to accept a more lucrative package from someone else. Others have been last-second no-shows for scheduled interviews. Not good.
There will always be employees from hell. And, while we all do our best to weed them out in advance, some do get hired. And those who are unhappy, divisive or disinegenuous eventually leave or are asked to leave. In each and every case, though, it’s their image and reputation that’s been damaged. Not the employer’s.
So a word to the wise, but angry, employee: leave before you do damage that will only end up hurting you in the long run. Meanwhile ‘caveat emptor’ should remain the watchword of small business owners everywhere.