He didn’t even call in

Dear Ken Keller:

We do a lot of purchasing from companies and they offer us incentives. Sometimes these things come in the way of a rebate check, and we have been offered trips and hotel stays too. I have always asked that the supplier provide us with checks in lieu of the travel because I want to put the money earned back into the company.

I avoid the so-called freebies like lunches, dinners, weekend trips, and other events because I want our company to be objective about purchasing decisions.  We don’t just buy on price, and we do value longevity in our partnerships. But I don’t want to be influenced and I don’t want my people to be influenced because of gifts and so forth.

Call me old fashioned if you like, but I need objectivity when the company’s money is being spent.

I recently hired a new purchasing manager, and I thought I had made it clear what our policies were but maybe not. Last Monday he participated in a charity golf tournament with one of our major vendors. (This is the kind of gift that I would ask be converted into a check).

The issue is not just that he violated our code of behavior; he didn’t let me know beforehand about this event. I think he knew I would tell him no. He also didn’t call in all day. Of course, we were worried he might have been in an accident, or something might have happened to him at home and he was unable to call for help.

I don’t mind telling you I gave him both barrels when he got to work on Tuesday. My anger didn’t seem to faze him. He didn’t apologize and he told someone else (who told me) he had no regrets and would do it again if he had the opportunity.

What would you have done and what would you do now?

–Harry O.

Dear Harry,

You made a mistake hiring this person. He may be the best purchasing person on the planet but if he is not interested in following the values of your company, there will always be conflict and I doubt you can reconcile it in a way that you will feel good.

My advice is to let this person go immediately and from this experience, create not just better interview questions to determine who you might be hiring, but also bring others into the process who might be able to see what you missed on this hire.



 Dear Ken Keller,

I am debating whether I should hire a receptionist. Some of our clients have complained about what they call “voice mail hell” and the last thing I want to do is make them angry. I’ve done the pros and cons in my head but wonder if you have any additional thoughts on this subject.

–Pauline S.


Dear Pauline,

Since you’ve already done the math and thought about how this decision could help and hurt your company, the only other thought I would ask you to consider is the cost of losing one of your long term, profitable clients because they can’t reach a live person in your company when they need to speak with one.