Revenge Hiring: A Destructively Bad Practice For Any Organization

Illustration by Dreamstime
Illustration by Dreamstime

Sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up!

From the land of Bad HR comes something I’ve only heard about as urban legend —  the Revenge Hire!

A revenge hire is when someone hires a person to stick it to another person in their organization. I can happen in a number of ways.

Here are a few:

1. The Fired Re-Hire

This is when an employee gets fired by one leader, then another leader in the same organization hires that person back into a job that is almost exactly the same.

Usually this happens when the first leader and employee just had a major personality difference, and another leader saw real talent in the employee, and possibly, thinks the original leader is a tool.

2. The One Level Up Hire

This is when your supervisor overrides your decision not to hire and makes the decision to hire someone you didn’t want.

I’ve seen this happen within a department, where the executive had a relative interview, and the department manager didn’t want to make an offer but was forced to hire the person anyway. That always turns out really good in the end…

3. The HR Hire

This is the one that just happened to me! The one thing we know as HR Pros is that we really don’t ever hire or fire anyone (unless it’s within our own department).

We do a whole lot of advising on hiring and firing, but ultimately, it’s up to each leader to make these decisions — unless, there’s some sort of issue at play where HR is going to pull their ultimate legal trump card and make the call on their own. This almost never happens!

For me, the manager wanted to hire one person, HR wanted to hire another, and the reason had to deal with some background issues with the manager’s person. HR pulled their card, hired their person, and the manager was not happy.

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Ultimately it took about four weeks for the manager to sabotage the HR hire, then she went over HR’s head to an executive to make the hire she originally wanted to make. This is revenge hiring at its best!

Revenge hiring is not a healthy practice 

Revenge hiring is like cancer. If you have it in your organization you need to cut it out immediately. It’s not something a healthy organization can have.

As an HR Pro, I always put a stop to it the moment I heard about it. Each time it happens the leaders involved act like it’s totally something different and not a revenge hire. They have to do this because the alternative should get them fired!

It’s hard to think of a more unhealthy behavior from a leader within your organization.

What about you? Any good revenge hire stories?

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


1 Comment on “Revenge Hiring: A Destructively Bad Practice For Any Organization

  1. The one level up hire is certainly familiar to me. Working in a smaller company of around 100 employees, it is pretty easy for the owner and operations manager to decide on their own if a potential hire is good or not, and to make HR’s life miserable as a result of their arbitrary opinion. They also have a tendency to decide that they want a position created or supplemented, find someone by word of mouth, and hire them without ever letting HR know about it until after the deal is done. Sometimes this works out, sometimes it doesn’t, but it is always something of an offence to HR. It’s easy to say you put a stop to it whenever you hear about it happening, but in a family run company where you aren’t family, that’s just about impossible.

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