Some things just never get old around the office. If you’ve never had the privilege of being a new-hire sponsor, I promise you…its coming.
Most of us know the routine. We’ve been on both ends of it. A new person was just brought aboard your team. Despite your best efforts to dodge your boss, he corners you in the employee kitchen on Friday…
“Hey Eric, you remember Cynthia? You interviewed her last month.” says Boss, developing a rapport.
“Oh yah. Nice girl…” I reluctantly respond.
“Oh, great! Well, her first day is Monday. I was hoping you could show her around. Get her set up. You know?”
…And so it begins.
My whole weekend is now preoccupied with the task that lay ahead. When Monday morning arrives, I slump into the office at 9 am to find a bright-eyed Cynthia sitting in the lobby. Coffee in hand, she looks like she’s been awake since 3 am and has already been to the gym twice.
“Cynthia. Nice to see you again! Welcome aboard.” I say.
“Eric! I remember you. How was your morning?”
Little does Cynthia know, I woke up about 40 minutes ago, and this is the last place I want to be.
“Oh, ya know. Mondays. You get in okay? Let’s head upstairs.”
Of course, other than me, nobody is aware of Cynthia’s arrival that day. She’s a total unknown. No badge. No desk. No laptop. Julie from admin is on maternity leave, and nobody else seems to know the process for assigning workspaces.
“Well, maybe just set your stuff down here.” I point to the chair-with-no-wheels next to my desk. It’s currently full of old papers that will never be read. I push them aside. “Let’s show you around.”
We start taking the walk of shame. What follows is 13 minutes of hell, full of obligatory hand-shaking and awful, pithy conversation. “Carl, have you met Cynthia?” (Knowing full well Cynthia has never stepped foot in the building in her life.) “She’s new to the team. First day today.”
And then, the jokes. “Uh oh, Eric is showing you around?! Look out for this guy, he’s a real troublemaker.” (ha ha ha)
We work our way from office to office, “That’s Jim’s office. He’s our VP. It sounds like he’s on a phone call.”
We encounter a group of three teammates discussing who-knows in a common area. “Hey guys. This is Cynthia, first day today.”
A collective, “Oh, hey there! Hiya. Nice to meet you.” The bravest of the three speaks up, “So, what project will you be working on?”
“Oh, not sure yet. Just meeting everyone for now.”
“Oh, okay. Well, Eric here will take care of you. He’s real good.” They say this not as a vote of confidence in me—I have no special caretaking skills that any of these three do not have. No, they say this to reiterate their deflection of any responsibility in the handholding of the new girl.
Finally, the walk is over, and we head back to my workspace. My own inbox is filling up, and I can’t help but feel conflicted between doing work and taking care of the new girl.
“So, IT is at some in-house training until after lunch, so for now I’ll see if I can get you some things to look over.” Suddenly, I wish I was better prepared. My computer isn’t even booted up yet.
“Do you know what project I’ll be working on?” Cynthia asks. Of course, I do not, I don’t make those kind of decisions.
“Not really, we’ll have to ask Paul when he gets in.” Where the hell is Paul? Part of me feels bad. I know how Cynthia feels. She wants to take over the world right now, and she’s about to find out that things just don’t move that fast around here. If she wanted to make a difference, the Doctors Without Borders headquarters is just down the street. “Take a look at this…” I print off a terribly outdated powerpoint with a loosely-defined org structure and mission statement. It’s the same one that was given to me some three years ago. “Don’t worry about the names, they’re all gone. Just get a feel for the types of clients we support.”
An hour passes, and we finally get Cynthia to her rightful seat. The tether is removed, and I once again feel like a free man. But, only for a fleeting moment.
The first day, I make—minimum—three “check-ins.” The first is about 30 minutes after we part ways. “You get a look at that org structure? Have you found the bathroom yet?”
Again, at about noon. “You taking lunch? There are some great places nearby. Sicilianos has a great calzone.”
“I brought my own, thanks.”
Of course you did.
“Oh, alright. Well, I’m gonna grab something.” I might just go sit on a park bench for an hour. Anything to get away from here. “Let me know if you need anything. Did you get a chance to talk to Paul?”
“Oh, yes. He said to stop by around 4.”
“Oh, Great, let me know how that goes.”
Great! That buys me at least two hours. I can get some real work done. Knowing that Cynthia actually has a task on her plate, even something as simple as a 7-minute meeting that is tentatively over four hours away, is tremendously important. If my boss comes around… “Oh yah, I showed her around. She’s got a meeting with Paul at 4.” Suddenly, I sound like I’ve got it all together.
Around 4:30, I swing by for the third time, “How’d it go with Paul?”
We talk about her conversation with Paul, and discover that Cynthia’s new task lead found her a couple hours earlier. They’re meeting tomorrow.
It Gets Better
As the days go by, responsibility starts to gradually shift away from me. She gets her badge, she gets her laptop. For the next two or three days, it’s just maybe one or two brief check-ins to see how things are going.
“You got your badge? Oh, great. Let me ask IT about getting you a laptop. That one you got is one of the old loaners.”
“Have you looked through the time reporting system?”
“Have you been introduced with any of your clients yet?”
Like a baby deer, Cynthia starts finding her own legs. She gets a project, and develops a routine.
The once-a-day check-ins drop to once a week, and later, even less frequently. The anguish of those first couple days fades into memory. Before I know it, Cynthia and I are BS’ing in the kitchen when Jeff comes by, “Hey guys. Have you met Adam? Today’s his first day.”
“Uh oh,” I say. “Look out for Jeff. He’s a real troublemaker.”
And it all comes full circle.
And To The Point
When I first started reading financial blogs, and blogging for myself, reading the “Monthly Financial Reports” of other bloggers was awesome.
If your day is like mine, you start out with checking J. Money’s page, and then you head over to JC’s RSS feed. Around the beginning of every month, tons (but not all, granted) of financial bloggers lay it all out there of what happened the month prior. Net worth change, dividends received, every expense under the sun, blog income and whatever else.
At first, it was helpful to read these. I got an idea of how the path to financial independence worked. At first, it was helpful to write these, as well. Like my first day on the job, I needed to “check-in” very frequently to make sure I was understanding what I, and everyone else, was doing.
As I grew, I started to not need these check-ins, and eventually, I stopped looking almost altogether. “I get it, tons of dividends, limited expenses…” The detail became far less important than the trend. It also became far less meaningful to write these monthly reports on Retire29. I still did it, because I thought I should, but over the months and now, over a year, it has turned into somewhat of a burden. I still want to ensure accountability and transparency in my path to FI, but a monthly update no longer seems necessary (to me or to anyone else). I plan to retire sometime in spring/summer of 2020. Do you really need, or even want, 50 to 60 checkpoints between now and then? Frankly, not enough happens in a given 30 days.
I’d much rather talk about lessons, ideas, principles, and tools, rather than put out monthly personal financial stats.
All that said, December’s report (due sometime next week), will be my last monthly financial report. From this point on, I’m changing to quarterly. Once I reach retirement, I’ll probably change to annually. Not only for me (less burden), but for you, too (better content from me will come in its place).
A Plea To Others
I now ask of other bloggers who do these monthly updates to reconsider the amount of value you and your readers are getting from them. I’m not saying “Stop,” but maybe adjust the frequency. To each his or her own, but I greatly value analysis, ideas, principles, and lessons far more than overly-frequent check-ins. I respect all of your ideas, and I mean this in the best way. I expect that I’m not alone in this assessment. I believe it will make a quarterly, or annual, update all-the-more significant and noteworthy. Plus, no matter how much you say, “With Personal Capital, these updates only take me like 6 minutes to write,” I contend that it still is a burden both to the content firehose and is taking away from where your greatest value is—teaching.
Setting an example is great, and so many of us are. But, understand the value of datapoints. Monthly, I fear, may be just too much.
Here’s to a GREAT year for all of us. Both bloggers and readers!