Friday, May 4, 2012

Guest Blogger: What Makes a Great Workplace?

By Plum Cluverius
Vedere Consulting

You can hardly pick up a book or article on leadership these days without hearing how important the development of good relationships is to individual and organizational success. How do we know that’s true?
A number of research studies have identified the importance of relationships in successful workplaces, but a study often cited was conducted by the Gallup organization in the late 1990s. Gallup set out to discover the factors that separated organizations that were successful in finding, focusing and keeping talented employees from organization that didn’t have this competitive edge. When they began the study, Gallup researchers didn’t know if salaries or benefits or perks or leadership made the difference.

To find their measure of organizational effectiveness, Gallup turned to the over one million interviews they had conducted over a 25 year period. They had been measuring factors in the workplace that managers could control and that pointed to higher employee satisfaction. They were looking for patterns in these questions and they were particularly interested in teasing out the survey questions that loyal and engaged employees answered affirmatively but average or poor performers answered negatively or neutrally. The idea was to identify only the factors that appealed to highly motivated and talented employees.

When all was said and done and the factor analysis, regression analysis and concurrent validity studies were finished, 12 factors emerged from the data as the most important indicators of an organization’s ability to attract and retain the most talented employees. These factors are:
  1. Clear work expectations
  2. Equipment and materials to do job right
  3. Opportunity to “do what I do best” every day
  4. Recognition and praise (within the past seven days)
  5. Someone cares about me as a person
  6. Individual development and growth is encouraged
  7. My opinion is valued
  8. Company’s mission/purpose makes me feel my job is important
  9. Co-workers committed to quality work
  10. Close relationship at work
  11. Frequent conversations about progress
  12. Opportunities to learn and grow
What patterns do you notice when you look at these 12 factors? Clearly, a significant number are determined by the employee’s immediate boss and most of them require relationship building skills and focus. A manager is not going to be good at setting clear work expectations (which requires a conversation), knowing their employees’ strengths, demonstrating care and concern, connecting the work to the organization’s mission, and providing useful opportunities to learn if they cannot build trusting relationships or if they don’t take the time to build them.
Relationship building requires a level of self mastery — learning to bite your tongue until the right moment to have a difficult conversation. It requires self awareness — the ability to recognize your own emotions, observe them objectively and use them as clues to determine what you need from yourself and others. It requires empathy — the ability to recognize what others are feeling and to communicate understanding and acceptance in difficult times. Self mastery, self awareness and empathy are the cornerstones of emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is now identified as equally important to long term success as IQ. Fortunately, emotional intelligence can be learned. I encourage you to explore numerous articles and books on the topic to learn more. There are a number of good resources listed at my website,

Plum Cluverius, PCC is an executive coach with over 30 years experience in leadership development. She lives and works in Richmond, Virginia. She writes a blog on leadership (used here)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for submitting a comment on! We appreciate your engagement.