Let’s face it – while we go to work to WORK, no one is expected to keep their head down the entire time they’re at the office, not speak to anyone else, and forego the occasional cigarette break if they’re a smoker. Yet companies expect, and have a right to expect, productivity out of their employees – that’s why they’re paying you!
No talking or socializing at all is one extreme, while the other one is that you can talk to whomever you want, whenever you want, about whatever you want, even if you never quite manage to make it to your desk until 11:00 a.m. Both examples are equally unrealistic!
So first we have the entire gray area in between those two, and that’s just during office time. Some companies have outside-the-office events or activities in which to participate – and of those, companies will differ in their definition of voluntary and mandatory, depending on the company and the event.
Then you take into account management styles; the self perception of an individual – erroneous or otherwise; a company’s philosophy and style, which in small to medium companies is usually pervasive of the CEO; or in a large company, the varying philosophies of Vice Presidents or personality characteristics of different functions (accounting vs. sales) which can result in multiple departments each with a different personality.
You begin to see the various influences that define “people oriented.”
The phrase is generally used to convey something vaguely like a company where everyone is pleasant and happy and people smile at each other when they pass in the halls. It’s fun to work there, everyone likes their job, and each employee is treated well and fairly. Know any companies like that?
“People oriented” is another ambiguous phrase that needs defining to make sure your definition is the same as the company’s definition – and that you can spot a difference if there is one.
But additionally, saying you want a “people oriented” company assumes, by contrast, that there are companies which are NOT people oriented.
What does a company that is NOT people oriented behave like? Is there such a thing? Probably, yes. But do they know it? High turnover is usually a clue, but an amazing number of companies never identify that as a problem, much less one worth looking at.
Most companies consider themselves people oriented. Most PEOPLE consider themselves “people oriented”!
So in many of those same companies, there’s likely to be a significant difference of opinion on what “people oriented” means, depending on who you ask: senior management, staff, customers, or other businesses with whom they interact; depending on whether they like their job; depending on what kind of day they’re having… or depending on if they have to put on a face to interview you.
You’ve probably had a boss or a co-worker who has considered himself people oriented, yet perhaps the person is rather aloof. Maybe you’ve had a boss who moves through the halls waving a cheery hello to his employees, but when you go looking for him, he’s never available — or you’ve worked for a company that rarely promotes from the inside, but it’s because they want “new blood” in the organization.
Or the CEO who is jovial with his employees, knows everyone by name, but through policies and procedures, makes life miserable for those who work there. One of my previous bosses at one of the recruiting firms for which I worked was a happy, friendly guy with a great sense of humor. And then he started messing with our commission checks.
Each of these individuals might claim to be people oriented, but in reality, what might seem to that person as people oriented, looks to others like a lack of awareness and unwillingness to look inwardly at the truth.
So what do you mean by “people oriented”?
- do you want a company that promotes from within?
- doesn’t frown on gathering at the water cooler?
- a company that has routine company parties and other office-wide gatherings?
- one where management makes a practice of being accessible?
- customers are of paramount importance both in philosophy and actuality?
- a company that is involved in its community and requires each employee to join or participate in a specific event once or twice each year?
When you take the time to look closer at what this phrase means to you, you’ll discover that some aspects of being “people-oriented” are more important to you than others. A company that requires silence in its halls but has employee softball games is not the same “people oriented” as a company that permits casual chit chat of the employees in the hallways and visiting in cubicles, but doesn’t have a company Christmas party.
Knowing what you mean by this phrase gives you the power to discover if the company’s definition is the same as yours.