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We have a new team member that happens to be a colleague of a friend from another company. This new guy was terminated from the other company due to his work ethic (slacking in work, etc.).

Should I warn or tell my manager about it?

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5 Answers 5

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No.

  • You only have anecdotal evidence for the reason behind his firing, assuming your friend is ethical enough not to leak confidential information.
  • Even if correct, you don't know if there are any underlying factors behind any poor performance (eg. not given enough work, consistently given work well below ability level, treated badly by seniors)
  • Even if there were no mitigating circumstances, it's not for you to undermine him before he's even had a chance to prove himself in a fresh work environment.
  • And if he turns out to perform acceptably in your company, you will have created a perception in your boss's mind that you are prepared to bad-mouth coworkers unjustifiably. Not good for future office politics.
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    Yeah, if he's already started, you have no business bad-mouthing him. If you're part of the interview process, then I think this is fair game.
    – Jared
    Commented Sep 2, 2014 at 16:32
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    Re anecdotal evidence: the question also seems to assume the friend in question has some special knowledge of the firing (ie, was involved somehow). If they were colleagues, this seems unlikely.
    – thegrinner
    Commented Sep 2, 2014 at 21:02
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    Who knows? Maybe being fired triggered him to get his act together, and there will be no further problems. Wouldn't want to sabotage that. Commented Sep 2, 2014 at 23:50
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    I had a conversation with the new hire, and I ask him directly what's the reason he left the previous company. He said he was supposed to participate to an international event and he must be on-leave for 2 weeks but he wasn't allowed. That is why he resigned. Doesn't matter now whatever the reason - I hope he become a valued team member of our department. Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 10:19
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These kinds of questions come loaded with tons of baggage.

Were you solicited for opinions on the new hire? Did you recommend the new hire? Is your friend in a management position such that they would know, not by rumor or conjecture, the reason this hire was let go?

I'm sure some other folks will recommend letting your manager know. I, however, will say it's nunya. As in none of your business. Unless you were in the chain of command or had direct information about this hire then you really don't know why your new colleague was terminated.

Maybe he is a lazy bum who never did any work. Or maybe the company wasn't a good fit and he felt undertrained/incapable of the workload. Maybe he had issues with his manager or team members. Maybe someone on the team was a jerk and threw him under the bus. Maybe personality wise he wasn't a good fit. Maybe the job he was hired for wasn't the job he ended up being given to do. Maybe they found out he was looking elsewhere...

My point is you don't really know. You don't know WHY he was let go and you don't know the process used on your current employer's end to vet why he was let go from a previous employer. For whatever reason, on both counts, he passed the interview and was hired. Trying to poison the well early about this new worker isn't going to benefit anyone. If he ends up being a lazy bum - why didn't you say something during the hiring process? If he ends up being a hard worker then you look like a jerk who tried to blacken his name! There's no benefit here, for you or the company, in bringing this up at this point.

My suggestion would be to forget it altogether. Often times when folks who didn't like someone know someone who works with that person at a new company they'll continuously pry into that unliked person's performance. It's beyond this question but I think it's human nature - when we don't like someone for whatever reason we want them to fail in other places as well. This is poison for you and the other person. Let it go, judge this new worker on his performance at your company and in your team.

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Has this person been hired?

Yes? Then keep it to yourself. This inevitably came up during their interview, and they gave a good enough answer to get hired anyways.

No? Then bring it up. At least where I've worked, trying to find friends and old coworkers that work with a candidate is very common. Your boss is not an idiot (I hope) and will take your information into account alongside other info. The friend of a subordinate isn't exactly a reliable source, but it might help your boss look into it more closely than they might otherwise. Maybe your friend was mistaken. Maybe not.

More information means better decisions.

Once they're employed though, your boss should have all the info they need right in front of them.

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There are MANY reasons why people may be terminated from a job. There are equally varied reasons that might be "rumored" about such a situation. Often those don't necessarily mix and, at least in the US, most employers wouldn't comment on the reason an employee is no longer with them anyway. (link) Further there's usually far more to a story than is generally talked about around the water cooler.

A while back, I very nearly terminated an employee based upon information provided by two others. The details aren't germane. Fortunately the employee was out sick the day I planned on taking action. This gave me an extra day to ponder the situation and reach out to others in the affected group because something just sounded a little off. What I found out made me stop and go back to the original reporters.

Ultimately the story provided had been made up by one of them and told to the other, who not only completely believed it but reported it as if they had first hand knowledge. The situation was such that if it had been true then immediate dismissal was the only responsible course. Had I fired this person I would have been doing the wrong thing.

When hiring people I feel you should allow some latitude for the past. In other words, the reasons surrounding their departure from a job may not be a reflection of their character; it might not even be wholly true. Regardless being dismissed can lead to a fair amount of introspection which can lead to a positive change.

Now if this person was "terminally" lazy - meaning they've bounced from job to job with the same issue - then it would be absolutely apparent by their work history. Those types tend not to last long at many companies; this is one of the reasons that numerous short term employments are usually a big red flag during the hiring process. Which the boss should have noticed and considered.

Point is, don't worry about it. You didn't hire them, someone else did. Presumably you aren't in charge of their continued employment, someone else is. Which means it's up to the actual responsible party here to ensure their decision was a valid one and to take action if it turns out to be incorrect.

By throwing your 2 cents in, all you would do is possibly color the boss' perception by spreading rumor and, potentially, making a career limiting move (CLM) if you turn out to be completely wrong. Or, worse, opening yourself up to potential legal trouble if the other employee found out what you had said and was willing to go to court over it.

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    having many short term jobs is quite common in some fields... It's also getting increasingly common in general here as labour law requires companies to give people a permanent position rather than a fixed term contract after 18 months (and as a result many companies automatically terminate everyone after 18 months, usually making up some reason of "unsatisfactory job performance" or "does not work well in the team" as an official excuse...).
    – jwenting
    Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 6:49
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    Now we all want to know what happened to the person making up the story!
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 9:44
  • @gnasher729: Considering they're relatively "young" (very early 20s) and they are otherwise a good employee, I elected to do a written Performance Improvement Plan that included a "nice" talk about how made up stories have a way of seriously backfiring on them. Part of the plan included an apology to the person in question. Seems to have worked out.
    – NotMe
    Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 13:53
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Your new colleague might have been totally demotivated at his old job, for all we know. Don't pass judgment on him, let him be himself. If he is still as demotivated as ever, your management will crack down on him quickly enough.

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