Designers Pt.2 – The good AND the bad.

Way back early in my writings I mention about how I thwarted a coup.  I left off without telling you how we survived after all that.  So after the exodus of every employee except me and the press guy, we had to get creative and fast. The owner John gave me a wide latitude to hire or spend as needed to keep us running. So the first thing I had to do was get someone in here that I could trust.  Enter the ‘good’.

I needed somebody to help me with calls, customers, orders and design work.  So a quick call was made to a former employee of mine (Sherri) who I was still in contact with.  She was doing freelance stuff at the time and had some time available, and despite the long drive for her, she agreed to come and work for me while I buttoned things down and searched for a full time person.  I had offered that to her, but she declined due to the drive, etc. She was happy to help out but didn’t want the drive long term.  Things immediately started to settle down as I knew that I could leave her to handle stuff when I made deliveries. Over the next month or so we contacted all of our current customers and reassured them that we were still in business (despite what those assholes were telling some of them) and kept the production line moving along.  Sherri was a professional who knew her stuff.

Now we are into week 7 or 8 and my search for a new designer begins.  I place ads in all the usual places as well as let some industry people I talk with know that I am looking.  Resumes pour in but very few of them look good.  There was one that was interesting named Porche (I have to admit a stripper was the first thing I pictured in my head).  She didn’t seem to have much formal design schooling but was currently doing the job at a FedEx.  I called her and tried to entice her but no dice, she shot me down.  So onto the next stack.  I ended up with 2 guys that I had talked to on the phone and had both come in for a test.  Both did fine and on paper were almost the same.  Only difference experience wise was that one was currently working and one wasn’t.  After much internal debate I decided to go with the one that was unemployed at the time.  His name was Dan.  Enter the ‘bad’.

Now I have made a lot of hiring decisions over my years.  I have made good ones and I have made bad ones.  Most of my bad ones are when I am almost ‘forced’ due to circumstances to hire someone.  When I have had the luxury of hiring on my time table I have had great success.  Sherri was one, as well as most of the people that were with me when I closed my store.  Sherri had been with me for 4 or 5 years by then, the press guy had been with me for 12, sales guy for 3 years and 2 counter people for over 7 years each.So I have had my share of successes.

Not with Dan.

He started off fine.  Over the first few weeks I spent a lot of time showing him where everything was at, how our filing system worked, taught him our order entry program for estimating and showed him the scripts and formats for customer interactions. So far he seems to be progressing well.  He is learning things and seems eager to do the job right.  So I start giving him a little bit more space to do the design work.  We meet each morning and I showed him what needed to be done and in what order if applicable, then went and did as much production as I could.

That’s when the questions started.  “How do you export this as a PDF?”.  “The file is too large to send thru our email, how can I shrink it?” “How do I make the background of this logo transparent?”  Stupid questions that he SHOULD know.  OK, maybe he is just being overly cautious being in a new job.  But the simple questions continue.  Business card layouts that should have taken about 15 minutes were taking 45 minutes. I had to explain the correct settings to send files to the DTP machine every day, even though they were written and taped to the wall beside him. What happened to the guy I interviewed?  He did great in the interview and test! In the meantime I had also hired a sales guy, who was having his own issues with the design person.  As in not following the instructions left by the sales guy on what the customer was looking for. This led to more than one under the breath remark about him knowing more about design than the designer.

It came to a head on a Friday. I can’t remember the specifics of the situation, but I recall the sales guy asking the designer why he didn’t do something the customer wanted.  Dan replied that it couldn’t be done, to which the sales guy said “yes it can.  Hell, I can do it.”.  Then I witnessed the most energy  I had ever seen come from Dan as he slammed his chair backwards and screamed “Then you fucking do it!”  I was already at that time considering making a designer change so I figured I would let this go on for a bit and see where it leads.  Well the sales guy calmly walked around and sat at the desk and did in 3 minutes what Dan said couldn’t be done.   “Fuck this, I quit…” mutters Dan and out the door he walks.  Great, time to start searching again. (The other guy had already accepted a job at a different place, I checked) At least Sherri was able to help me out once again.

 

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