Thursday, September 6, 2012

It's About People

With all the talk about Romney saying that a "corporation is a person" or whatever, I got to thinking that there's a twist to that which is actually very true: A business is really about the people within it.  I'm not bringing this up to be political in any way whatsoever.  Seriously.

It sounds simple, right?  It seems obvious enough.

But how many times do you hear people around you say something about a business, or an organization of some kind, either negative or positive, and they apply their judgement against the name of the business?  I hear it all the time. A great example is cell phone companies.  Get a conversation started about which company is "best" (whatever that really means), and watch the fur fly.  I've heard things like "Verizon sucks!" and "ATT is crap!" or "Don't even waste your time with Spring or Intelos", and so on.

I like to ask: "Why?" - then when they try to offer up some generic bullshit story, I cut them off with "who was that?", with the intent of drilling into the fact that it's usually isolated experiences with specific people that build the perceptions we hold about companies.  The same is true for any organization, even governmental agencies.  Everyone is negative and lays their judgement on the doorstep of the entire organization, when in fact they can't really back up more than one, two or three individuals in that organization that affected their views.

When you think back to any job you had in the past, you probably conjour up a mood or "feeling" about it, based on memories.  Good or bad.  But when you focus in on those feelings, you can almost always nail down who the people were that shaped your fondness or dislike of that job.  Maybe it was just one person.  Maybe it was a group, but often that group is shaped in cultural terms by one person, maybe the leader, whatever.  It's still people.  It's always about the people.

This week I was told that one of the guys who sits near me at work had given notice and was leaving.  He has been at this place for more than six years, and is very well liked.  One of the nicest people I've ever known.  It bummed me out the entire day, knowing he'd soon be gone.  Not "gone" in the ultimate sense, after all, with social networks being what they are today, it's hard to disappear from the lives of your colleagues like was the case five or ten years ago.

Still, as I approach fifty years of life on this ball of dirt and water, I've learned how important people are around you.  How vital they are to shaping our daily lives.  From the littlest of things to the major things, the people you work with every day set the mood for how you wake up, and whether you look forward to going in to the office, or not.  And as I've seen many good people leave places I've worked at, I become more attuned to the value of nice people, talented people, helpful people, and how important they are to everyone around them.

This isn't really about this one guy, it's really about all the great people I've worked with in the past few decades.  I'd like to think I was one of those "good" people that was missed when I had left one place for another, but that's not for me to decide.  I'd have to ask them, but a good part of me feels that the smartass side of my personality probably didn't leave too many sad people behind as I moved on to a new job.  Who knows.

What I do know is this: If you work with people that frustrate and anger you, or just annoy the shit out of you a lot, avoid them.  It's more important to focus your time on the people that make you smile, who inspire you, who make you feel good about going to work instead of dreading it.  Because it's really all about people.

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