Personal Narrative: The Receptionist

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The Receptionist

I was hired by a company in Boulder, Colorado. In spite of the fact that I managed five departments, the company (or my management), chose not to give me any administrative support.

I was a corporate level manager with five departments reporting to me, yet I had no administrative support whatsoever!

I became very friendly with the receptionist. I talked to her off and on, whenever I had the chance. It became apparent that she was bored. She was bored out of her mind, just sitting there all day greeting people. She wanted something to do. She wanted something to make her feel more productive. So I asked her if she would be interested in doing some typing for me, and she said, “I’d love to.”

To make a long
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It has a couple of points actually. One of the points of the story is, gatekeepers have a lot more control and a lot more power in a company than most people give them credit for. The second point is, most people do not pay enough attention to the gatekeepers.

The Gatekeeper and the Shoes

Many years ago, I was out of work. I had been laid off from my job, and had been trying to find a job for about seven months. I went in for an interview at this particular company, and I got the job.

A couple of weeks after I was hired, I was talking to my boss’ administrative assistant. I found the conversation an interesting one because she was telling me how she had given me a positive recommendation. She said to me, “Joe always asks me what I think of the candidates when they come in for an interview, so I look at their shoes. If their shoes are polished, I

give them a good recommendation. If they’re not polished, I give them a bad
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Just in general, be nice to these people because they can make you or break you.

Culture vs. Reality

The sad truth . . .

I would like to tell you a little story about a company I worked for, where the corporate management believed the corporate culture was one thing, and the people working in the company knew that the corporate culture was something different.

There is also a very strong lesson in this for anyone who is in management in a corporate environment, and believes that what they say will be noticed more than what they do.

This particular corporation had signs posted all over every building. These signs defined what they believed their corporate culture was—or, what management believed their corporate culture was.

It was very interesting, because—and I am not going to use any of the exact words out of the posters that were hanging on the walls of the company—basically, the posters defined an open environment where employees were free to approach management about anything at any time. If they did that, it would not be held against them. The posters described a culture where team work, innovation, and free flowing communication were
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