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I'm trying to determine if "results-oriented" is a good thing or is a job smell.

Many job descriptions (especially development jobs) describe the work as "results-oriented". What does this term mean in this context? Is there a kind of work not based on results?

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    Hey Jace, a quick Google search reveals some definitions on the Internet, such as here: wiki.answers.com/Q/What_does_results_oriented_mean and here modernanalyst.com/Resources/Articles/tabid/115/articleType/…. I assume your question goes beyond just basic definitions. I don't think this is a bad question, but I do think some clarification would help get you the best possible answers, keeping in mind our site isn't intended for extended discussion. Good luck! :) – jmort253 Sep 11 '13 at 0:48
  • @jmort253 I'm trying to determine if "results-orented" is a good thing or is a job smell, similar to "fast-paced". – Jace Browning Sep 11 '13 at 1:17
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    Thanks @Jace, I edited that into the post. Although I have to say that I work in a fast paced environment, and it's pretty darn exciting. I wouldn't call that a job smell in my case, but I could see how it could be in another case... – jmort253 Sep 11 '13 at 1:24
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    @jmort253: it's not about the environment being fast paced, it's about advertising double speak, where it means "young and willing to work unpaid overtime". Likewise I expect the OP fears that "result oriented" may be code for something like "project in trouble, looking for someone to blame" – jmoreno Sep 11 '13 at 7:46
  • @jmoreno - Don't get me wrong, I can see the term being used for evil, but it can also accurately describe an environment where navel-gazing, focusing on titles, or focusing on a person's status are meaningless where instead results or "getting things done", is most respected. – jmort253 Sep 11 '13 at 14:36
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Results-oriented in my experience usually means that the output of your efforts is what your productivity will be measured by. I've had the (mis)fortune of working in such areas and it's had the following implications:

  1. Gung-Hoism : As results being the main metric of performance, team members are usually driven harder to deliver. Either by peer pressure or insecurity,developers will bang out code at breakneck speed,stock brokers will make (huge,risky) trades. All to get results

  2. Competition: Related to or as a result of (1), competition in such environments tends to be fierce. Whether it's among teammates or between departments, the organisation can easily become a shark pool. While a healthy level of competition is necessary for any successful organization; back stabbing, ass covering and email warfare will generate friction between the elements of an organization. Any organization will become counter productive pretty quickly under such conditions. It sounds bad but this quality will breed a fighter in you. You'll develop a can do attitude like no other place can impart

  3. Merit based rewards: A result driven environment is not kind to lazy staff. Or politicians. Or incompetence. You're going to be rewarded based on what you've done (successfully) and not by being teacher's pet.

  4. Work volume: This is one thing I believe the "Results-oriented" and "Fast-paced" phrases have in common; there will be plenty to do in a result-oriented environment. You'll get a lot of action, if, you're in the right place at the right time. As a result of 1 and 2, it's not uncommon to have turf wars between managers and departmental heads. With regards to projects and budgets, if you find yourself on the team of the bigger shark, you'll have plenty to sink your teeth into. If you're on the losing side, you'll spend a lot of time sitting on your hands.

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Many job descriptions (especially development jobs) describe the work as "results-oriented". What does this term mean in this context? Is there a kind of work not based on results?

Unfortunately, this is yet another one of those terms that means only what the writer says it means.

One company might use this term to mean "We work nights and weekends to achieve our results." Another company might mean "We have lots of measurements in place to ensure you are working toward the results we want." Other companies have different meanings.

When I use that term (which I very seldom do), I mean that I want people on my team to focus on the results - the deliverables, rather than focusing on how we get there. I don't want to have a lot of standards to be followed, a lot of rules around how to do the work, or a lot of paperwork and approvals required - I just want to get the job done.

Work that isn't results-oriented in my shop tends to be the administrivia that large companies require. Filling out a lot of paperwork, attaining the many layers of approvals, strict adherence to stylistic standards, etc - all these might help a large bureaucracy measure, but often do little to produce individual results.

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I think that it could be good or bad depending on the meaning the hiring manager gives it. Sometimes it might just be HR doublespeak, sometimes it might mean a project in trouble that they are looking for someone to fix, sometimes it might mean that they will measure everything and base your performance appraisal on lines of code written or bugs fixed. Sometimes it means that there are deadlines we have to meet no matter what. If I saw this on a job opportunity, I would still apply for the job if the rest looked interesting but would use the interview to ask questions around this issue to see what the expectations really are. Then you can decide if your needs/desires will be a good match for theirs. Note also that what might be a "run away from at all costs" job for me might be perfect for you.

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Some locations are very process oriented. These places have inflexible procedures that must be followed and processes for everything you do. For someone who enjoys the working in a structured environment this can be a good thing. Creative people tend to find this environment stifling and soul-crushing.

A results oriented generally means that they are less likely to care how the job gets done so long as it is done successfully. That does not mean that it is lower pressure than a process oriented business. As noted by others it can mean nearly impossible deadlines, and poorly defined scopes. But it could also mean that they are more laid back, and while structured if you can deliver your outputs as desired then you will be allowed to do your work your way. Typically the compensation is greater from the higher pressure positions though usually not any where near on an equal pressure to pay basis.

You will need to do your due diligence with regards to the company. If this is a professional position then I would want to meet with some of the team and talk to them about the environment and find out if it is the right fit for you.

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"Results-oriented" is simply a long-standing corporate buzzword.

It doesn't mean much. Of course, almost anything in any job has the goal of obtaining a result. Being result-oriented simply means keeping that in mind, so that you switch strategies if your current efforts don't show signs of producing a result, instead of expecting that you're doing a good job simply by generating effort.

But there is hardly a job where effort can compensate for a poor track record of producing results.

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Produce results or update your resume.

Edit: Longer answer

If the company uses this term I see it as they will likely be more hands off regarding micromanagement and focus more on key performance indicators ("KPI") of your final product. Management may focus on cash flow of your project or quantity produced (non-cash results) and have strict guidelines that they will use to judge your ability to complete your job. Low hanging fruit is easier to justify being plucked from the tree when it comes times to cut.

Regarding positions which may not be "results-oriented" there are some fields which are less reliant upon results for judgement on accomplishing their task.

  • Teachers (many influences on students' success)
  • R & D (from a broad conceptual approach the design may not be able to proceed, not their fault)

Other positions are very easy to quantify as highly "results-oriented".

  • Salesman (meeting sales quota during up market)
  • Manufacturing (meeting production quota while adjusting for beyond control influences ie. equipment failure)

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