Originally published April 8, 2008.
It’s a great day at Newman Industries! For the last month, it has been actively recruiting a hot candidate to join its sales team. Today, Steven Harmon agreed to join. Newman sees him as a true rainmaker. The recruiter and sales manager share high-fives. Mission accomplished! Spike the ball in the end zone. The job is done! The competition was fierce for Steven, but Newman Industries won.
While Newman Industries was celebrating, Steven resigned his position with his present employer and enjoyed a celebratory dinner with his wife. That night, Steven lay in bed wondering if he made the right decision. He came to terms with his decision and looks forward to his first day at the company.
It’s 8:28 a.m. when Steven arrives for his first day at Newman Industries. He is excited, while also apprehensive. When Steven walks into the office and introduces himself to the receptionist, he is surprised to hear, “Oh, I didn’t know we had a new person starting today. Who did you say you were here to see?” Steven brushes this off, as it is not completely foreign for the receptionist not to be notified about a new employee joining a company.
The receptionist calls around and tells Steven that he is in the right place, but his manager Jamie has not arrived yet. Steven sits in the lobby as person after person walks by without saying a word.
Finally, at 9:10 am, Jamie walks in carrying a Starbucks coffee. She greets Steven in the lobby and takes him to his cubicle. Steven is surprised by what he sees. The cubicle looks like it belongs to someone else. Jamie explains that they had a salesperson leave the company the other day and that they had not had a chance to remove his stuff. “I have an idea,” sputters Jamie, “Since I have a meeting to run to, why don’t you get rid of this stuff and then we can get together at 10. Here is a garbage can. Thanks.”
Steven agrees, but is also a little miffed. “I signed up to sell, not provide janitorial services,” he thinks. While cleaning out the desk, he finds a farewell card in the top drawer that is signed by all of the Newman employees. He thinks it is thoughtful that they recognized this employee as he left the company.
It’s 10:30 when Jamie returns to Steven. She notices that there isn’t a computer set-up for Steven in the cubicle. She calls the IT department to see where it is. She hangs up the phone and looks annoyed. She turns to Steven and tells him that HR forgot to notify the IT department. “They won’t have your computer ready for a couple of days.”
She turns to Steven and says, “I have another meeting to run to, but let’s have lunch. Here is a bunch of stuff to read for now.” Jamie produces a foot-high pile of wrinkled papers and says, “That should get you started.”
Lunchtime comes and Jamie hurriedly comes by the cubicle and asks Steven how he is doing. She then proceeds to apologize, but tells him that she cannot go to lunch. She explains that she got called into another meeting. She suggests that Steven go out and get lunch on his own. “We can get together at 1 pm,” says Jamie. “By the way, Steven, can you grab a burger for me? I’ll pay you when you get back to the office.”
Steven leaves for lunch and is starting to question his decision to join Newman. He thinks back to the interview process and how attentive the team was with him. He remembers how aggressively they recruited him to join their team. He thinks about how warm and welcoming the management group was in its pursuit of him. Today, he feels like a third wheel on a date.
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Steven comes back to the office with Jamie’s burger. It’s now 1 pm, and Steven is hoping that Jamie has some time for him. Jamie comes by Steven’s cubicle and thanks him for the burger. She asks Steven to come by her office at 2 to talk about his territory. Steven sits in his cubicle and flips through the pile of papers left for him. All the while, employees walk past his cubicle without ever saying a word.
At 2 pm, Steven goes to Jamie’s office. Jamie explains that the sales team is in a bit of a transition and the compensation plan is changing. Thus, there is no compensation plan to share with Steven that day. The territory is also in flux, but that should be resolved in the next two weeks. After chatting with Jamie for about a half hour, Steven returns to his cubicle. The rest of his day is more of the same and at 5 pm, he heads for home.
Steven’s wife asks about his first day. Steven says, “I’m really happy that I didn’t pull my resume off the job boards or tell the recruiters that I was off the market, because I don’t know if this is going to work out. We’ll have to see.”
The truth is that Newman Industries is really a fine company. It just made a very common mistake when hiring salespeople. It worked so hard to recruit Steven that they celebrated prematurely. The company thought they had Steven when he accepted the offer. That was their error. They failed to recognize that they had only completed the next step of the process. What is missing is a program to ensure the impression made in the recruiting and interview process is continued when the person arrives on their first day.
Many of you reading this probably think I made up that story about Steven. The truth is that this story is an amalgam of the many horror stories that I have heard over the years from salespeople.
Putting together a new-hire welcoming program isn’t overly difficult to do. However, it takes commitment on the part of the entire management team to ensure it is followed.
Think back to the story. Steven found a card that was given to the employee on the way out. How about a welcome card for Steven that is placed in his clean cubicle that has everything he needs to do his job? Office supplies, new-hire paperwork, a computer, a who’s-who list, a phone that is ready for use, etc. Again, it’s not hard to do this, but it does require some thought.
Consider how much money was spent to recruit Steven into Newman Industries. Now think about those dollars evaporating after Steven doesn’t return after his first day.