By Judi Perkins
Companies pay you for your productivity at work, but few of us are expected not to speak to anyone else and forego the occasional break. Nor should employers permit you to talk to whomever you want, whenever you want, about whatever you want.
These equally unrealistic examples leave a gray area - 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.
Then take into account management styles; a person's self perception; company/department philosophy and style; and whether the CEO sets the tone or if the varying philosophies of department heads or functions do (accounting vs. sales).
"People-oriented" is generally used to convey a company where people smile at each other when they pass in the halls. It means that it's fun to work there, everyone likes their job, and each employee is treated well and fairly. Know any companies like that?
It's is an ambiguous phrase that needs defining to ensure your definition is the same as the company's, and that you can spot a difference if there is one. Additionally, saying you want a "people-oriented" company assumes, by contrast, that there are companies that exist which are not people-oriented.
What does a company that is not people-oriented behave like? Do they know it? High turnover is usually a clue, but lots of companies never identify that as a problem, much less one worth looking at. Most companies consider themselves people-oriented, just as most people consider themselves "people-oriented."
The definition will also differ depending on: who you ask (senior management, staff, customers, or other businesses with whom they interact); whether they like their job; what kind of day they're having; or if they have to put on a face to interview you.
Self Awareness, or Lack Thereof
You've probably had a boss or a co-worker who considered himself people-oriented, but was aloof. Or a boss who moves through the halls waving a cheery hello, but when you go looking for her, she's never available. What about 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?
Each of these individuals might claim to be people-oriented, but in reality, they have a lack of awareness and an unwillingness to look inwardly at the truth, which ultimately affects their relationships.
Here are six questions to ask to get a clear definition of what the company means by "people-oriented":
- Do you promote from within?
- Do you allow some socializing?
- Do you have office-wide gatherings?
- Is management accessible?
- Are customers of paramount importance both in philosophy and actuality?
- Is your company involved in its community and do you require each employee to participate somehow?
Look closer at your definition of "people oriented." You'll discover that some aspects of this phrase are more important to you than others. Knowing what you mean gives you the power to discover if the company's definition is the same as yours.