starting new job

A Tale of Two First Days – Part 1

Sometimes the best way to illustrate an idea is to give an example or tell a story.  For onboarding, we wanted to illustrate two company’s approaches to orienting a new employee by describing their first day on the job.

In this post, we’re going to follow Gus Morrow on his first day on the job at Lee Enterprises.  We apologize for the length of this story, but as you’ll see, for Gus it was a very long day.

The next post will follow another employee on his first day at a new employer.

Gus Morrow drove up the driveway to Lee Enterprises’ head office at 8:25 am to ensure he’d be ready to start his new job at 8:30.

When he got to the security gate, the guard asked who he was and the purpose of his visit.

Gus explained he was a new employee and that this was his first day.

The guard checked his briefing notes and told Gus he wasn’t on the list of employees, nor was he on the list of visitors expected for the day. He made a call to the main office and then directed Gus to park in the parking lot and showed him where the main entrance was so he could check in with reception.

When Gus got to the reception desk, the receptionist asked him the purpose of his visit.

“I’m just starting today as Director of Marketing. My name is Gus Morrow.”

“Oh. In that case, I’ll have to call HR for you and get someone to look after you.”

After about 10 minutes, a woman came into the reception area and walked over to Gus.

“Hi. You must be Gus Morrow. I’m Sheila McKay. I’m the payroll administrator here. Let’s go back to my office, and we can start you on the paperwork to get you on payroll.”

While Gus was filling in his tax forms, Debra Harris, the Director of Human Resources popped in and re-introduced herself.

“Hi, Gus. Welcome to Lee Enterprises. It’s good to have you here. Wish I could spend more time with you, but I’ve got an important meeting to attend. Sheila’s going to show you around and introduce you to people here.”

first day on the jobSheila started out by taking Gus over to his office. Judging by the disarray, his predecessor must have left on short notice.

Sheila said, “You remember meeting John Holmes, our VP Marketing? Well, he got called to New York for a meeting this morning and won’t be back until Wednesday. I guess you can make yourself at home here and go through some files, read some magazines and maybe re-organize your office until he gets back. Here’s a copy of the employee manual. You can read it over as well”

“Is there a computer here I can use so I can start doing some competitive analysis?”

“Oh. We’ll have to put in a requisition to IT to get one for you. It shouldn’t take too long to get one for you. Maybe a day or two.”

Around noon, Gus was starting to feel hungry and poked his head out his office door. Everyone around was gone – presumably for lunch.

Resignedly, Gus grabbed his jacket, headed out the office and got in his car. He’d seen a Burger King on the highway into town and headed there.

When he drove back to Lee Industries, he went through the same routine as before with security.

“You’re supposed to scan your passcard here whenever you leave and re-enter the grounds. Don’t forget it next time! And where’s your parking permit. You need that, too.”

Gus has to be buzzed into the office area by the receptionist because he didn’t have a passcard, and headed for Sheila McKay’s office. She wasn’t there, so he found a pad of foolscap and wrote a quick note for her indicating he needed a passcard.

About 2:30, Sheila came round to Gus’ office and said, “We need to get you set up with a keycard. Why don’t you come with me and we’ll do that.”

In a small room off the HR department, Sheila took a photo of Gus and laminated a passcard for him. He reminded her he also needed a parking permit, so she dug one up for him.

On his way back to his office, Gus stopped to introduce himself to some of the other employees.

“We heard there was a new guy coming on board, but we didn’t know they’d hired someone”

“Nice to meet you! I hope they treat you better than Joe, your predecessor. They had security hustle him out of the office one Friday afternoon and he was screaming for them to take their hands off him.”

Just after 3:30 the phone rang. After racing back to his office, Gus just missed the call. He picked up the handset to access his voicemail, but the new design of the phone was hard to figure out, and there was no internal phone directory to figure out how to contact anyone.

A few minutes later, Sheila came to his office and said John Holmes was on the line for him. What was Gus’ extension so she could transfer the call? Gus went back to the phone to check, told Sheila the number and shortly thereafter, the phone rang once again.

“Hi, Gus.” Holmes said. ”Sorry I wasn’t able to be there on your first day to show you around, but something just came up with General Thermo, our biggest customer, and I got called to their New York office just last night. How’s it going?”

“Great”, said Gus. “I’m settling into my new office and getting things organized.”

“Which office did they put you in?” asked Holmes.

“308. Just down the hall from you” replied Gus.

“Dammit. They were supposed to put you in 302 – right next to my office. I’ll talk to Sheila and have her help you move down the hall. I don’t know why they put you in 308.”

By the way, I’d like you to spend tomorrow with Damien Cox, our VP Sales. I think you met him when you were interviewing. I’d like him to take you to visit a couple of customers tomorrow. Sales is going to need some marketing help on product design for these customers and it’d be a great way for you to see what some of the issues are in the field.”

“That’d be great”, said Gus. “Do you have any business cards for me to help introduce myself?”

“Oh, great! Another thing we forgot about! Ask Sheila to help you order some from the printer. Good luck tomorrow!”

“When do you get back to the office?”

“Probably Thursday.  General Thermo’s got a new product they’ve developed and I’m bringing in a team to look after them. It’s good news, but it’s thrown a monkey wrench into getting your oriented. I’ll call you Wednesday morning to see how things went with Damien.”

Sheila and Gus got together to work on Gus’ business cards.

“OK. So my office is going to be 302, according to John Holmes. What’ll my extension be? And do I have a direct dial number?”

You extension will be 302, same as your office, but I’ll have to get someone in IT to tell me what the direct dial number will be.”

“What about my email address? What’s that going to be?”

“That’s another thing we need from IT. I can have someone come see you tomorrow to set those up.”

“I’m going to be out of the office with Damien Cox all day tomorrow. Can we make it Wednesday?”

By 4:30, Sheila and Gus had managed to move all the files down from 308 to 302.  Gus spent the next half hour trying to work out how best to organize things.

It was just after 5 and, when Gus emerged from his office and looked around, all the other offices were empty. He turned out the lights on his way out of the office area, rode the elevator to the ground floor and started out for home.

When Gus got back to the parking lot he couldn’t find his car.  He headed for the front gate, described the vehicle and asked the security guard if he’d seen it.  The guard checked his notes and told him a car of that description had been towed away early in the afternoon.  Apparently, it had been parked in the VP HR’s spot.

Gus sighed, got out his cellphone and called for a taxi.



Here are some things to consider when commenting:

  • What was Lee Enterprises doing wrong in bringing Gus Morrow on board?
  • What did they do right?


Our next post will describe Chad Spencer’s first day at Amalgamated Industries.