I've heard it said that you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer. I don't know the origin of the saying, but whoever said it was wise. I've been thinking about it a lot lately as I decide how to deal with a potential employee.
We made an offer to a guy a few weeks ago who, from a technical perspective, knows all about that aspect of the business and is somewhat of a local celebrity to boot. If he had the money, he would have already opened up a similar business, and if we piss him off, he may do so anyway. We decided to make him an offer to work for us part-time in order to "keep our (potential) enemies closer." His lawyer is reviewing it, and he is thinking it over. Here's the problem though – he doesn't think before he speaks.
Over the last few weeks I have heard him on several occassions blurt out things that he shouldn't have said. Sometimes they are mean, other times unprofessional, and other times just generally inappropriate. Nothing harrassing or sexual in nature was said, just things like some guy is a jerk or that location sucks and everyone knows it or something to that affect – things he shouldn't be saying in front of a certain audience. At this point, I'd like to just withdraw the offer. I wonder if I will spend too much of my time apologizing for things that he has said instead of running the business. But, at the same time, it would be nice to have him work for the company where I could keep him on a short leash. Truth be told I am hoping he comes back and tries to negotiate higher pay and then I can just say no and then he will reject it. No matter how much I read and blog about strategy or management or whatever, nothing could prepare me for making this kind of decision. These things always have to be done on a case by case basis. I keep wondering if he will do more damage by working for us, or by being pissed off at us and trying to compete. I never thought I would second guess myself so much – and we haven't even opened for business yet! I guess I should get used to it. If any of you have a similar story, I'd love to hear how it turned out for you.