Receptionists are the lowest paid employee in any company. They are mostly paid less than the janitorial staff that is working with a third party contractor. They are also in huge demand, which means they are free to move from one position to another upon the simplest whim.
On the other end of the front door to the company, in the ivory tower or lush corner office, is the executive, who wants a backup staff that can assist in maneuvering through the daily minefield with the goal of staying on top. They hire expensive and good looking top executives, secretaries, Vice Presidents and support staff, and delegate the hiring of the receptionist to the human resource manager.
This creates an interesting paradox and one that can be analyzed easily.
The top executive sets the tone, the environment, the feel and accessibility of the company. Is it an easy going and happy work environment? Or, are their intrigues and whispers in the coffee lounge of disgruntled workers. Do employees have a passion and enthusiasm for their work? Or, are they secretly planning an exit to somewhere they are more respected?
The respect and discipline, the passion and enthusiasm, the feeling of belonging to a family with the same goals and dreams, all start with the top executive. This also means that any negatives: caustic remarks, threats, feelings of insecurity, failure to award the positive efforts, and subtlety thrashing the mistakes made, also start with the top executive. These attributes flow and trickle down through the organization. The answer to the typecasting of the success or failure of the top executive is easily apparent with a simple interview with the receptionist.
Ask first how long the receptionist has worked there, a simple question. If longer than one year and the person is not related to any other employee, then the work environment can be positive. If less than six months, then ask how long the previous receptionist was there. If less than six months, the work environment is negative.
A positive work environment can mean success; a negative work environment can spell bankruptcy and failure.
Of course, the receptionist interview is only the first clue to the potential success of any company. Other clues include an analysis of the other lower level employees. Is their camaraderie open and active, or forced, i.e., do they celebrate each other’s birthdays and anniversaries? Is there easy access to free coffee, water, and break rooms?