There I was, fresh out of college, a little wet behind the ears in the way of the world, excited about starting my first day at my new job. This was back in 1994. I was newly married, no children yet, but we were planning on having some as soon as I got a real job. Well here was my chance. I answered an anonymous ad in the classifieds and received a call back from the "Company" within a few days and a brief phone interview ensued. Having passed that phase, I was called into for an in person interview. Well, the interview is a story for another time, but let's just say I passed with flying colors and was offered a job for a sum that at the time sounded like a fortune (and really was for someone with no kids whose wife had a decent job with great benefits). I was to begin in 3 days time and I was very excited to get on with my life.
Fast forward three days, having purchased a new wardrobe for the business casual environment (not really completely understanding what that meant, but hey I managed to do alright). I arrive for my first day and after the preliminary meet and great by the president of the company I was shown to my desk and promptly forgotten. It wasn't until a few hours later that someone realized they had someone they didn't know sitting a desk in an office trying to look like they belonged. This colleague, who turned out later to be a great guy, promptly introduced me to the person that would turn out to be my direct boss. Nice of them to remember they had a new employee starting wasn't it? I was taken into his office where we sat and talked about nothing in particular for about an hour while he smoked cigarette after cigarette, which was ok because I was a smoker as well at the time and I really thought… "Man this working stuff isn't so bad after all."
I was then walked back to my desk and handed about five programming books to read up on (it was a FoxPro shop at the time and this was my first exposure to it.) Why they hired me? My only guess was that entry level FoxPro developers were hard to come by. Anyway, after flipping through the books was doing me no real good as I'm more of a hands on person and I still didn't have a computer. Needless to say, being a little green in the ways of the business world, I didn't realize I was allowed to take a lunch pretty much when I wanted to (I came from the retail world which was very structured). So there I say, shriveling away to nothing until again someone walked by and said "Hey, did you ever go to lunch?"…this wasn't until mid-afternoon. Ok, I can blame myself for that one as I should have known better, but I couldn't believe I was basically being forgotten for the most part. In the 7 years I was there, it became a tradition (perhaps because of their failure with me) to take a new hire out to lunch on the company their first day. I wasn't so lucky I guess, but perhaps I've paved the way for all hires since.
What was the point of this short novel? Well my friend, I have these posts in a category of "Lessons Learned". As a business owner now, one of my greatest strengths is looking back at things that did and didn't work with past employers and reacting to the lessons I learned from them on how to run and how NOT to run your business. Now it may seem obvious to most that ignoring a new hire is something you really should NOT do, but back in '94 it wasn't so. If you've made the commitment to hire someone new treat them with the respect they deserve (and that you would expect yourself) by making sure they are not forgotten and thrown into a corner. Make sure they understand that while you expect them to work hard and do great things, you also see them as a valuable part of the company. First impressions are huge and nothing could be more critical to an employee's future at your company than how they reflect on their first day on the job.