Great Workplaces Have These Things in Common
Thanks to the Indianapolis IABC  (International Association of Business Communicators) and the Gallup Organization, here is a list of what differentiates great work groups from the pack. As you read the results of their research, consider whether you and your employees could say the same.
- "I know what is expected of me at work." Often times, business are too operational when defining steps to follow to get the work done. Today's most effective managers define outcomes first, then let employees figure out the best route to take. This approach recognizes that people are individuals and have different ideas about how to get from Point A to Point B.
- "I have the materials and equipment needed to do the work right." It goes without saying that to be effective, you must have the right tools to do the job. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, authors of First Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently, suggest managers ask employees to evaluate why they need certain tools. They say that by asking them to evaluate their needs based on how it will help them, the company and customers, you will get them thinking about outcomes rather than personal preferences.
- "At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday." People are most effective when given the chance to integrate their talents, skills and knowledge.
- "In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work." Although recognition can be either positive or negative, effective recognition has the following characteristics: it is positive in nature, immediate and real-time to performance, specific about what is being praised and close to the action, remind the authors Buckingham and Coffman.
- "My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person." This shows how important it is to ensure that everyone has someone within the organization who can guide them.
- "Someone encourages my development." Coffman and Buckingham recommend managers seek to understand employees as a way to play off their strengths. They suggest managers talk with employees about why they took they position, what keeps them there and their desired recognition. The best managers, they say, hold a mirror up to their employees so they can see how to improve themselves.
- "At work, my opinion counts." People want to share their opinions regularly. There's nothing more frustrating that to be left out of a decision.
- "The mission/purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important." Excellence happens when people feel a deep sense of purpose.
- "My associates (fellow employees) are committed to doing quality work." The research showed that work groups that realized their actions affect customer loyalty were able to pull together to make needed improvements.
- "I have a best friend at work." We tend to thrive in social settings, and like it or not, work is a social institution. Here we are reminded that company loyalty can be built around social relationships.
- "In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress." People need regular feedback to let them know how effectively they are applying their talents every day at work.
- "This last year, I had opportunities at work to learn and grow." Not only should we give employees opportunities to grow and develop, we should allow them to challenge how the business is run without fear of retribution.
These days, productivity comes not from working harder, but from working smarter. And in order to work smarter, we must consider what each employee brings to the table and how to motivate them to achieve mutually agreed upon outcomes.