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The genius of personality.

Pay, benefits and employee perks aren't the only things that make these the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon.

If you had to guide a police artist in drawing a sketch of your firm, could you do it?

One of the striking things about the organizations on the Oregon Business 100 Best Companies to Work For list is how easy that task would seem. Once you see these companies, their features stick in your mind.

Consider Rejuvenation, which edged up to No. 1 this year. The sketch: dedicated to bringing new beauty to old houses, a place where craft is prized, a workshop in an old mold, a workplan in a very new mold. Or Griggs-Anderson Research at No. 2: crackling with intelligence, filled with a group of the smartest people you've ever met; it's a place that not only asks employees to stretch and learn, but is serious about helping them to do it. Or Intel, a past champion and still strong at No. 3: an engineer's dream, the buzz of minds at work is as strong as the allegro movement of a concerto, a sense of speed and urgency is constant, the complaints about the pace are exceeded only by the pride in meeting it. (Intel didn't slip, by the way; Rejuvenation and Griggs-Anderson both added features that boosted their scores since last year.)

That the 100 Best list is filled with such strong personalities probably tells us something. Perhaps that very thing, call it the genius of personality, helped them get there.

What is personality? Define "identity" as that crisp sense of who you are that coordinates the parts of an organization. Define "culture" as a shared world view, a background set of values and first principles. Define "mission" as the written summary of a company's goal and direction. "Personality" then, is all the above and everything left over. It's a certain spark, the elusive ghost in the machine.

What it does for the companies on the 100 Best list is clear but hard to quantify. It's fair to say that organizations are like organisms, and personality in companies works something like personality in a person. Personality makes them coherent; it helps to make their actions hang together and build upon one another instead of collapsing in a heap like a straw man. If you know who you are, after all, you're well on your way to knowing what to do. If you know your company's personality, you know a lot about where to go and you know more about how to work as a team.

It suggests that it might be profitable to look at businesses through the same lens we use to look at people's personalities.

How does your company rate: Is it well-adjusted? Mature? Well-balanced? Is it involved in the world around it? Is it learning and growing? Does it care about people? Is it interesting to be around? Does it have a great personality, or just a good one?

The companies on the list certainly do not all have the same personality, and now is a good time to repeat our standard warning that we're not commending the winners as the best places for everyone. Judging workplaces is inescapably a subjective thing; certain people no doubt would be miserable at some of these companies.

We have, however, done our best to capture all the measurable factors we could. This year, our fourth of searching for Oregon's best, we sent out about 700 applications to companies that expressed interest. A healthy number of new applicants sent back the daunting six-page form; unfortunately, many other companies that had applied before and failed to make the list stayed on the sidelines. Editors judged about 150 completed applications in five areas:

* Pay and benefits (worth a maximum of 35 points).

* Employee involvement (20 points).

* Community involvement (15 points).

* Opportunities for advancement and training (15 points).

* Workplace culture (15 points). Besides seeing all those strong personalities on the list, here are some other trends we spotted this year.

* More companies are thinking in terms of total compensation, supplementing traditional pay and benefits with other things aimed at making life better. They invite speakers and artists to lunch time gatherings, provide on-site fitness facilities or arrange loans for home computer or even house purchases.

* Time is better than money for many people, so managers are using creative ways to give employees time, from allowing them to set their own hours, to providing sabbaticals, to giving them more time with Fido by allowing them to bring pets to work. On the horizon: concierge service at larger companies to drop off cars for service or pick up dry cleaning.

* Pay is up for entry level positions. Though our application process does not constitute a scientific sample, the responses show that few jobs now start below $7 per hour. That's probably because of two factors: a boost in the minimum wage, which affects the rest of the low-end of the pay scale, and the continuing tight market for labor.

* "Teamwork" is still the watchword for the best companies. Some form of cross-functional teams, ad hoc task forces, quality circles or other collaborative decision-making is close to endemic at the 100 Best Companies to Work For. Teamwork seems only to be gathering strength as it moves well beyond the status of simply another management fad.

Pay and benefits

NOTEWORTHY

Alcatel CFI ProServices Climax Portable Machine Tools eFusion Griggs-Anderson Research Intel Mentor Graphics Protocol Systems Rejuvenation Waggener Edstrom

Employee Involvement

NOTEWORTHY

Cascade Bookkeeping Cascade Fabrication Climax Portable Machine Tools Darex Emerald People's Utility District Griggs-Anderson Research Legacy Health System Neil Kelly Designers/Remodelers Oregon Catholic Press Rejuvenation

Community Involvement

NOTEWORTHY

A-dec Bear Creek Corp, Burley Design Chown Hardware Dennis' Seven Dees Griggs-Anderson Research Morse Bros. Neil Kelly Designers/Remodelers Platt Electric Rejuvenation

Advancement and training

NOTEWORTHY

A-dec BOORA Architects Darex InFocus Systems Intel Merix Morse Bros. Nike Rejuvenation Young and Roehr

Workplace culture

NOTEWORTHY

Associated Chemists Burley Design CFI ProServices Chrome Data Emerald People's Utility District Griggs-Anderson Research InFocus Systems KVO Advertising and Public Relations Nike OrCom Systems

Apply yourself

Should your company or another you know of be on the 100 Best Companies to Work For list? Let us know and we'll be sure to send you or the person you suggest an application for the 1998 list. Applications will go out early in February and are due at the end of March.

Write to: 100 Best Companies Oregon Business 610 S.W. Broadway, Suite 200 Portland 97205

E-mail us: feedback@oregonbusiness.com

Or retrieve an application form at the Oregon Business Channel: www.oregonbusiness.com

The 100 Best in cyberspace

We've warehoused even more information about the 100 Best Companies to Work For at the Oregon Business Channel, www.oregonbusiness.com. Here are some of the things you can do there:

* Search the list by region or industry.

* Look up company addresses and human resources contact names.

* See a list of 100 Best Companies that are accepting resumes online, and use an e-mail service to send a resume instantaneously.

* Get your feet wet with basic information about living and working in Oregon.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Oregon Business Media
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:100 best companies in Oregon
Author:Grund, John M.
Publication:Oregon Business
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Jul 1, 1997
Words:1192
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