Greener Pastures

Recent events have led me to an old saying… “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”.  In my new position as regional network support I cover two medium sized offices and two small offices.  Recently we have had a mutual employment earthquake in the two larger offices and aftershocks in one of my smaller offices.  Well, after the shakeup two of those who quit have come back, one in Madison and one in Milwaukee.  Now two thinks come to my mind on this mutual return… one; why did they leave in the first place and two; why did we hire these people back (they obliviously do not have any loyalty or dedication).


In all three instances of people leaving, it was for a better opportunity, however it was the way all of them left that was bad.  There is one episode of The Cosby Show that reminds me of this.  In the episode Bill Huckstable learns his oldest daughter is married, before she told him about the marriage.  Her new husband is older, a non professional, has been divorced, and does not have a promising future.  She was so afraid of her fathers disapproval she eloped and decided there was little he could do after the marriage.  Before the new husband gets the chance to tell Bill Cosby’s character the truth Mr. Huckstable tells his new son-in-law a story.  The story is paraphrased as follows:

Mr. Huckstable – Do you like steak?

Son-in-Law – Yes sir, I love steak.

Mr. Huckstable – I bet you are a medium rare kind of man.

Son-in-Law – Oh, yes sir, there is nothing better then a juicy steak.

Mr. Huckstable – How about potatoes, you a potatoes kind of man?

Son-in-Law – mmmmhmmm, nice baby potatoes with gravey.

Mr. Huckstable – And vegetables, steamed or grilled?

Son-in-Law – Grilled sir, my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Mr. Huckstable – Mine too, wow, now that is a meal!

Son-in-Law – Yes sir!  Now that is a fine dinner any man would love.

Mr. Huckstable – Yes, yes.  Now imagine this.  This succulent, perfect steak, with the baby potatoes and gravy and savory grilled veggies all steaming and looking better then in the pictures.  You with me?  Now, imagine all this and the waiter brings this perfect meal to you on a garbage can lid!  You see son, it is all in the presentation.  You might be the perfect steak, but my daughter served you up to me and her mother on a garbage lid.  How would you look at that meal now?


How does this fit into the ‘grass being greener’ perception.  It’s all in the presentation.  Few things in life are what they appear to be at first sight.  Yes the grass may look greener in the pasture on the other side of the fence, however once you are standing in the middle of it; things take on a whole new light.  In the instance of people leaving for better opportunities the lure of new people, new tasks, a clean start are all very appealing, but… you are leaving what you know for uncertainty… maybe it works out good, maybe it doesn’t.  That is life.  I am a person who would rather try and know it is bad, rather then go through life and wonder what could have been.  That is not the point.  As I started in the beginning it was the way they left.  In all instances they just did not show up and when people went into their offices they found resignation letters.  No two week notices, no rumors of any merit, just an empty office and a paragraph stating they were taking new positions with a new competitor. 


Now my question is this… when they approached their respective district managers, how did it seem a good idea to hire them back?   Yes they have experience, and are already trained in the processes and procedures, and they have a relationship with customers… but…  There is the question of loyalty.  It is like taking back a significant other after they left you for another person.  Past performance predicts feature behavior.  If these individuals were so eager to leave, and in such a way as to put us in a jam, then we should not have been so eager to welcome them back.  It also sends a message to other employees that it is ok to leave when you are bored and find something better, because if it doesn’t work out, well you can always get your old job back. 


Second chances are great, and being lucky enough to reverse a bad decision before it gets too out of hand is a god send, but it offers another issue, if it happens too often the god send turns into a routine.  The people we hired back are good workers, and have generated good revenue for the offices, but if they are so eager to jump ship then do we really want or need them?  We all know business is about greed, there is no need in calling it anything other then what it is, however when it is so blatantly shown you will do what ever it takes loyalty should be a moot point.  Business is about mutual benefit.  Loyalty is no where to be found in this, but if a person shows loyalty and sacrifice it proves the type of person they are.  In the old story about the grass always being greener, the cow in one pasture keeps breaking fences to get to the other side and to the greener grass.  Once there the cow finds the lush green pastures are now as lush as they appeared and each one is really worse then the last, and eventually the cow can not figure out how to get back to where she started, and the real greener pasture, the one she started out at.  Funny thing about old wives tales… they hold much more wisdom then we give them credit for.  I am a sucker for loyalty and character.  Call me old fashioned, but I believe all a person has in this world are their word and work ethic.  These people will always be known as the ones who left and came back 6 weeks later, and for nothing else.

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2 Responses to Greener Pastures

  1. Unknown says:

    The people that left and came back…almost like they didn\’t leave, but they end up with worse reps than the time before they left. This surely isn\’t the image I would want as an employee. Loyalty and character should be important…you\’d think. But, I\’m betting the thought, the idea of having to go through the hiring process, and then the training process all over again wasn\’t exactly something the powers that be were ready to do. Why not just hire someone who already knows the ins and outs? No spending there…no time spent, no extra cash spent…seems like a dream to managers and company CEO\’s to me. Well…it\’s all an opinion anyway. Thanks for the thought-provoking blog. I\’ve got students whom I encourage to dream big and set their sites on big business, but it truly is a hit and miss game for me when it comes to everything I should be teaching them. One thing I wish I had was some sort of looking glass into all the different businesses they could set their sites on before graduating. They could get a real good idea of what the "real world" is like and then choose their poison. But, there\’s always one dream job out there for each one of us…it\’s only those select few who get lucky enough to land that job. Your work is exactly what I teach. I wouldn\’t mind learning more about what you do. I think my students might learn something as well. I\’ve included my e-mail just in case you wouldn\’t mind sharing.

  2. Unknown says:

    I totally agree with you and your work ethic. The leaving and then coming back happens in my department (IT) as well. The real unfortunate part is the people returning always seem to come back at higher salaries. The people loyal to the company start to feel unappreciated for their dedication and the extra hard work they had to do in picking up the slack when their co-worker left. It causes hard feelings. I understand companies wanting to save some money by hiring people already trained. However, companies don\’t seem to return the loyalty to their dedicated employees.

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