Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

May 2001

New employee orientation

Numbers are supposed to be my friends. You know, like I’m a bean counter, a bookkeeper, a grey-souled, mirthless autocrat dressed in green eyeshade and celluloid cuffs hovered over a 13-column pad with a No. 2 pencil and a 10-key adding machine no more than inches from my withered right arm.

Yeah, so?

Well, speaking of numbers, this is the 12th issue of the 17th volume of this magazine.

Who’s counting (besides me), but that’s 204 months in a row of bringing profiles and features about business people to an elite audience of business people in a business magazine called Business People that used to be called Business Digest. It’s kind of like being associated with the “Artist formerly known as Prince” only in print and a little heavier and a staple in the middle.

Seriously, the extra point I want to make is about orientation and how it could be better.

When I became a publisher 17 years ago (something I’ve now been longer than anything else I’ve ever been) I was amazed at how little I was told about the process of publishing.

Not since I went to work in 1962 for National Dairy Products have I received a decent orientation. Then, my supervisor spent more than 10 minutes with me explaining hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; one hour lunch); pencils (black for work; red for calculation verifications; blue for referenced numbers; and green for supervisors, so I wasn’t supposed to use green); WATS numbers (and what WATS meant: wide-area-telephone-service); due dates; break times; lunch hours; and the three guys I could bet football with.

No one seems to care about orientation anymore.

Here are the things I think every orientation program should include:


Rest room locations;


Phone codes;

Pet and plant protocols (can you bring them to work and who waters them);

Dress codes (jackets, ties, pants, skirts, shorts, collars and like that);

Requisition protocols (whom do I have to know to get a Post-it?);

Report forms, due dates and memo formats;

Coffee pot program;

And office pool policy.

Oh, yeah, and salaries, bonus programs, benefits and like that.

Lastly, mission statements. By the way, hire people who really care about customers and you don’t have to worry about customer service.

For those of you concerned with investment strategies, I offer the following orientation.

Fifty years ago, Roger Babson (founder of Babson College and Babson reports) recommended investments in seed and greeting card companies as they were the only industries allowed to be managed privately in the Soviet Union. Today, Burpee Seeds is celebrating its 125th anniversary and Hallmark (established in 1904) now has 10 subsidiaries. I don’t intend to wait another 50 years before following Roger’s advice.